Zambia suspends 48 MPs who boycotted president's speech

Lusaka - Zambia's parliament on Tuesday suspended 48 opposition lawmakers who boycotted President Edgar Lungu's address to legislators in March to protest his contested electoral victory.

The lawmakers from the United Party for National Development (UPND) avoided Lungu's address claiming he was not the legitimate winner of the contested August 11 elections.

Parliament Speaker Patrick Matibini said they should quit if they did not accept Lungu as the head of state.

"I challenge you to resign on moral grounds if you do not recognise that there is a legitimately elected government," said Matibini.

"I have, in exercise of my powers, decided to suspend the 48 members of parliament from service for a period of 30 days with effect from today."

Matibini said that the lawmakers would not be paid or have access to the parliament building or lodgings during their suspension.

Tuesday's decision is the latest in a long-running battle between Zambia's government and the principal opposition.

The UPND's leader Hakainde Hichilema has been in custody since April accused of treason over allegedly putting the president's life in danger when his motorcade failed to make way for the head of state's limousine during a high-speed incident.

Hichilema has claimed that he was assaulted by police during his arrest and has suffered mistreatment in detention.

The alleged motorcade incident, which occurred on the weekend of April 8-9 as they were both travelling to the Western province for a traditional ceremony.

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