Thursday 13 November 2008

Africa- Sub-Saharan Africa- Zambia- New President elected- police arrest Priest live on Catholic Radio- alleging he alleged a rigged election

(Social Justice South Africa; c.f. BBC World News 13/11/08)

Article by Marc Aupiais

After getting in narrowly, and replacing the Patriotic Front temporary President- President Ruphiah Banda (Movement for Multi-Party Democracy), of Zambia- has anointed his office, with the arrest of a Catholic priest, while the priest was live on Radio Icengelo, which the BBC says is church owned. The priest is alleged to have should we call it- caused tension through allegedly saying the recent election in Zambia was rigged. Creating antagonism in Zambia is apparently illegal, allowing for an arrest.

The Priest has been charged with inciting animosity between people, and of claiming that the recent elections were rigged. The opposition Patriotic Front has alleged a rigged election in the country, however- the Catholic Radio station is not confirming or denying whether or not the priest actually joined allegations, or if he alleged a "rigged" election. Father Frank Bwalya simply replies- "innocent until proven guilty". In an opposition stronghold, hundreds marched to see him freed. He was released on a police "bond" (I am guessing bail), and will appear in court on November 27th.

It is uncertain if the priest was airing the view at all, or for that matter whether or not the church believes the elections to be rigged. Sometimes priests do in fact support unjustly political causes, but if the priest did say this on a Catholic Owned Radio station, then there may be some credence to wider support of his statements in the church- if they were made at all.

Otherwise, this could be a sign of government repression of freedom of speech. His program was analyzing elections, and he called for calm when released. All one can do with these facts is speculate until more is known.

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