Obasanjo to visit jailed Zambian opposition leader

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo. PHOTO | FILE 

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu Saturday held talks with former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who had paid him a courtesy call at the State House in Lusaka.

According to the president’s spokesperson, Amos Chanda, the two leaders discussed Mr Obasanjo’s peace efforts as well as his anti-polio campaign in Africa.

Mr Chanda said the Nigerian leader also asked to be allowed to visit imprisoned opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Mr Hichilema has been in detention since April facing treason charges. Political tensions have since been high in the country.

Last month, President Lungu declared a state of emergency to deal with “acts of sabotage” by his political opponents, after a fire gutted the country's biggest market in the capital Lusaka.

Mr Hichilema narrowly lost to President Lungu in the 2016 election, which the opposition alleges was stolen.

Mr Chanda said Saturday the president agreed to Mr Obasanjo’s request to visit the opposition leader at Mukobeko Maximum Prison, about 150km north of Lusaka. Mr Lungu also ordered that Zambia Airforce flies Mr Obasanjo to the prison.

Zuma visit

Meanwhile, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma arrived in Lusaka early Saturday to open the country’s 91st agricultural and commercial show, at the invite of President Lungu.

The two leaders also held bilateral talks.

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