Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been charged with treason, police said Wednesday, after he allegedly refused to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade on a main road.
Hichilema has said he does not recognise Lungu as president and has refused to accept the result of last year’s presidential election.
“We have charged Hichilema and five others with treason,” Zambian police chief Kakoma Kanganja told reporters in Lusaka.
Hichilema’s vehicles allegedly declined to pull over to allow Lungu’s convoy to pass when they were both travelling to Western province for a traditional ceremony at the weekend.
More than 100 armed police surrounded Hichilema’s house outside Lusaka early on Tuesday and tear gas was fired before a raid when he was taken into custody.
Hichilema, head of the United Party for National Development, has launched several legal attempts to challenge the August election result.
He says that the vote was rigged and accuses Lungu of an unprecedented bout of political repression in Zambia, which has been known for its relative stability.
The election campaign was marked by clashes between supporters of Lungu’s Patriotic Front party and the UPND.
Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of death.