Zambians demand priest's release

2010-03-14 18:25

Lusaka - Zambian civil society groups called on Sunday for the immediate release of a Roman Catholic priest who was arrested on suspicion of calling for the removal of President Rupiah Banda's government.

"We demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Father Frank Bwalya from prison," Patrick Mucheleka, spokesperson for the CSO umbrella group of eight civil society groups, told a news conference.

He said the groups "wish to warn government that we are not intimidated by the arrest of Father Bwalya".

Frank Bwalya was arrested on Friday and charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of peace during a rally held to mark youth day in Kitwe north of the capital Lusaka.

Bwalya, who enjoys massive support in the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) stronghold, flashed a card painted red when he joined the celebrations - which police said signified a call to remove the government.

Since has arrest, Bwalya has been denied food and visit from close relatives including his mother, the CSO said.

"We want to warn government that they will be held responsible if anything happened to Father Bwalya while in detention," Mucheleka said.