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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Three charged with defaming Chiluba
Edith Nawakwi outside the police station (Photo: The Post)
Opposition politican Edith Nawakwi is already facing charges
Zambian opposition politician, Edith Nawakwi, and two journalists from the independent newspaper, The Post, have pleaded not guilty to charges of defaming President Fredrick Chiluba.

A magistrate in Lusaka has set their trial for 5 September.

On Tuesday the three accused surrendered themselves to police, and were released on bail after several hours' detention.

Their lawyer, Mutembo Nchito, said they were questioned for several hours.

Opposition supporters who accompanied them to the police station cheered as they left.

The order for their arrest followed an editorial in the Post which described President Chiluba as a thief.

Another politician, Dipak Pater, who is in hospital with back problems, has been interviewed by the Zambian police.

The charges have sparked an outcry in Zambia among opposition and civic groups.

They are urging Zambians to sign a petition which says: "Chiluba is a thief".

Released

Mrs Nawakwi told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that new charges were not made against her as she had been charged with defamation on a previous occasion.

President Chiluba:
President Chiluba: Increasing criticism of his rule
The Post had carried an editorial and an article in which the politicians had alleged that President Chiluba had diverted $4m allocated for emergency aid.

The food aid money has been missing since 1997. The government allocated it to buy corn, which never arrived.

Edith Nawakwi is a member of the newly-formed Forum for Democracy and Development, which recently broke away from the ruling party.

On Sunday a private radio station Radio Phoenix was closed inn what critics and human rights activists describe as an attempt to stifle government opposition.

Criticism of Zambian President Frederick Chiluba has intensified in recent months after public protests forced him to abandon a bid to extend his term in office.

The president has accused Zambia's independent media of publishing lies and falsehoods.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC interview with Edith Nawakwi
"What he (President Chiluba) has stirred is an hornet's nest"
BBC interview with Frank Mutubila,Radio Phoenix
"One can only speculate the government is unhappy with the voice of the opposition"
See also:

17 Aug 00 | Africa
Zambia's stylish president
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Zambia
15 May 01 | Africa
Chiluba to bow out gracefully
04 May 01 | Africa
Chiluba: 'I won't stand again'
03 May 01 | Africa
Chiluba faces impeachment moves
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