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Authorities arrested outspoken Zambian opposition leader Nevers Mumba on Tuesday for graft allegedly committed more than two years ago when he was the country's ambassador to Canada.
Anti-corruption task force spokeswoman Namukolo Kasumpa announced the arrest after Mumba, accompanied by dozens of his Movement for Multi-Party Democracy supporters, was led to the cells at a Lusaka police station.
Leader of the largest faction of the former ruling party, Mumba was Zambia's envoy to Canada between 2009 and 2011. His party lost power to President Michael Sata's Patriotic Front in 2011.
He is accused of awarding Can $34 000 (26 300 euros, US $34 450) worth of contracts for the renovation of the ambassador's house without following proper procedure.
He is also alleged to have failed to comply with systems when he received and disbursed a donation of more than Can $122 000, given to the Zambian government by the world's gold leader Barrick Gold Corporation.
He will appear in court on Wednesday.
Just before police whisked him away, Mumba lashed at the government for intimidating the opposition instead of tackling the country's woes.
“This country has many problems. The president is sleeping when the country is going down, mealie meal prices have gone up,” he said.
Some party female lawmakers and supporters shed tears and threatened to undress to protest his arrest.
It is the third time Mumba was arrested in recent weeks. Late in 2012, he was locked up for unlawful assembly when he met traditional leaders.
He was also arrested for statements police said were likely to breach the peace, when he claimed the ruling party was planning to destabilise the opposition. - Sapa-AFP