November 9, 2005

Editor arrested for calling president a fool / Unrest due to new constitution

Zambian police have arrested the editor of the privately owned daily and charged him with defamation after his newspaper called President Levy Mwanawasa foolish and arrogant. M'membe, a controversial journalist who fended off similar charges after he called former President Frederick Chiluba "a thief", has been charged with defamation of the president.

The charges have roots in a speech Mwanawasa had made before, when he attacked founding President Kenneth Kaunda for suggesting that Zambia's latest bid for a new constitution would be smoother if Mwanawasa met opposition and civil society leaders to hammer out the sticking points.

The new constitution has been a subject of social unrest when thousands of Zambians marched to parliament at the beginning of November to demand that the constitution be enacted before the country's next election in 2006, when Mwanawasa is due to stand for a second and final five-year term as president. According to Mwanawasa, the government did not have enough cash to deliver the constitution in that period. (Rts)

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