POLICE in Kaoma yesterday disrupted a meeting organized by the Mbunda speaking people aimed at addressing challenges currently facing Western Province.
The Mbunda who are the majority in Western Province, constituting 48 percent of the population feel marginalized and have called for government recognition.
A number of police officers in riot gear fired teargas canisters to disperse the crowd of Mbundas who gathered at the venue.
And Western Province police commissioners Standwell Lungu said the police was unable to provide security at the meeting because of lack of manpower, as most of the police officers had been deployed to Mulobezi where a parliamentary by-election was taking place.
Mr Lungu said all the meetings in the area would be cancelled, saying the Mbunda meeting would be reconsidered later after the by-election when police officers were able to provide security.
But Mbunda Royal Establishment (MRE) spokesperson Kennedy Mubanga said it was not true that Police had inadequate manpower because the police gave them a permit to hold their meeting, when they already knew that the were by-elections in Mulobezi.
“The reason for interrupting the meeting based on the reason given by the police that there is no manpower as most of the police officers are deployed to Mulobezi is not convincing because they are the same police who gave us the permit to go on with our meeting and they knew that there are by-elections ahead,” he said.
Mr Mubanga said instead the meeting would continue somewhere despite the police having stopped it because they were permitted.
He said if the police were aware of the people who wanted to bring confusion during the meeting; they could have been helpful if they could have brought them to book.
Mr Mubanga said Chief Chiengele, Chief Sikufele, Chief Namulumbwa and chief Ndandu (Prince) were in Kaoma and wanted the meeting to go ahead.
He said some of the displaced people were only able to meet their chiefs at Regina Guest House where they (Chiefs) were lodging.
Mr Mubanga said the police were not helpful as the same police officers who interrupted the meeting could have been adequate to monitor the meeting.
He said the meeting was aimed at helping the Government to resolve the issues affecting Western Province. “This is not fair because others are given a go ahead but we were stopped at the last minute,” he said.