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Zambia ends emergency powers imposed during crisis

Zambia's justice minister said Wednesday that emergency measures imposed at the height of a political crisis that followed the detention of an opposition leader on treason charges would not be renewed.

The southern African nation was earlier this year rocked by soaring tensions that also saw a spate of arson attacks, some opposition legislators boycotting parliament and the barring of an overseas political observer.

Justice Minister Given Lubinda told parliament that the special measures — a step towards a full state of emergency — would be allowed to expire after 90 days in force.

President Edgar Lungu imposed the measures on July 5 following a spate of fires in the capital Lusaka and other towns. The package was approved by parliament on July 11.

“The declaration made on 11 July duly expires midnight tonight. The expiration of the threatened state of emergency should not be taken advantage of as other existing laws still remains enforce,” said Lubinda, who urged Zambians to behave peacefully.

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was detained in April over an incident in which he allegedly failed to give way to Lungu’s motorcade. He was released in August.

South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane was blocked from entering Zambia in May as he flew into the country to attend one of Hichilema’s pre-trial court hearings.

Lungu has denied accusations that he is creating a dictatorship in Zambia and has accused rivals of trying to overturn last year’s election results.

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