The Zambian embassy in London has denied allegations that President Edgar Lungu tried to kill his opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. Picture: Reuters/Rogan Ward/File Photo

Johannesburg – The Zambian embassy in London has strongly denied an allegation in a report by the UK Sunday Times that President Edgar Lungu tried to kill his political opponent, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Hichilema said he was holding a rally on Friday in Sesheke, south-west Zambia, when police and activists from the ruling Patriotic Front opened fire, the Lusaka Times reported on Tuesday

The Sunday Times said it had obtained video showing terrified men and women cowering behind vehicles and fleeing through the bush amid the crack of automatic gunfire.

However, a spokesperson at the Zambian High Commission in London,  Abigail Chaponda, said in a statement the embassy had sent a letter to the newspaper denying the accusation. She said the article not only maligned Lusaka but also projected a false image of the real situation in the country.

The letter to the Times’ editorial board said Zambia cherished freedom of assembly and expected every citizen to respect the rule of law irrespective of their status in society.

Hichilema, 56, had earlier warned that the international community’s failure to act against state-sponsored violence in neighbouring Zimbabwe was encouraging other African regimes to crack down on opponents.

African News Agency (ANA)