The decision by the Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani not to grant permission for a joint rally represents an unlawful violation of the Zambian peoples’ right to freedom of assembly, the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) has said.
Counsel to the CDDR Robert Amsterdam said there was absolutely no basis under the Zambian Constitution or international law for the police to arbitrarily and pre emptively ban peaceful political gatherings for no reason.
Mr Amsterdam said “The Patriotic Front administration is in violation of several international agreements that guarantee basic rights to its citizens, such as freedom to assembly and the right to association and the right to public assembly.”
He said reports of the denial of the permit to the opposition parties follows upon controversial statements by Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba, who recently stated that Zambian people “want a one-party state,” and that the government would seek to “close down” certain Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The international lawyer also observed that the basic principles of democracy appear to be under attack as there was a clear pattern of abuses of people’s rights in Zambia.
Mr Amsterdam appealed to the international community and donor institutions to remind the Zambian leadership of its international commitments, and ask them to instruct Inspector-General Libongani to reverse the order to ban the Metendere rally.
The combined opposition rally, which was planned to take place in Lusaka’s Metendere compound wanted to address the issues of the arrest of opposition leaders and the current spate of food shortages.
The opposition parties notified the police of their intention to hold the rally together in response to repeated refusals to grant permission for individual rallies.