Banda denies SA asylum plan

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iol pic afr zambia -politics AFP Former Zambian President Rupiah Banda

Lusaka - Zambia's former president Rupiah Banda will not seek political asylum in South Africa, his spokesman said Friday, as a fight between the government and opposition heats up.

Zambian President Michael Sata late Thursday accused his predecessor of heading to South Africa, the neighbouring regional power, to avoid corruption charges in Zambia.

Even if he does, “we can go to South Africa and extradite him,” Sata threatened. He also claimed that two other opposition leaders were planning to escape to South Africa.

Banda's spokesman Mikatazo Wakumelo dismissed Sata's allegation of the former leader seeking to flee, saying simply, “that's not true,” but he declined to comment further.

Sata, who defeated Banda in 2011 elections, is accused by the opposition of a heavy hand in cracking down on political dissent.

Members of the opposition have complained before international forums, saying there are increasing civil rights abuses.

The Zambian government is in the process of lifting Banda's immunity over his alleged involvement in corrupt activities during his 2008-11 rule.

The former president refused to appear for questioning this month. - Sapa-dpa


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