WATCH | Zambian President Edgar Lungu orders reshuffle of police brass after two protesters killed

  • Zambia's President Edgar Lungu has ordered a reshuffle of the police top brass.
  • The reshuffle follows the shooting of two protesters.
  • Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema said "snipers" targeted the demonstrators.

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu has ordered a reshuffle of the southern African country's top police brass to facilitate a probe into the killing of two protesters last week, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The two protesters were shot dead last Wednesday outside the police headquarters in the capital Lusaka where top opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was being questioned.

READ | Zambia denies accusations President Edgar Lungu bankrolled Rwandan rebels

Hichilema said afterward that "snipers" had deliberately targeted demonstrators.

On Tuesday, Lungu's spokesperson Isaac Chipampe said the president had "received a preliminary report on the killing of two citizens in Lusaka last week and has made changes in the police service command to allow for a speedy enquiry".

"Let us allow investigators to do a professional job, regardless of who is involved," Lungu was quoted as saying.

Elections due in August

Kakoma Kanganja, police inspector general, has been given six months to investigate the killings as well as reform the police "to regain people's confidence" in the force, the statement said.

The president sacked two senior police officials while others have been transferred, it added.

The unrest saw riot police arrive to break up a crowd of several hundred demonstrators.

The police issued a statement saying that two people were reportedly killed by gunfire after tear gas was used to disperse an "unruly" crowd.

They said they were investigating the circumstances, which were not immediately clear.

Hichilema, 58, is Lungu's main challenger in elections due in August.

Lungu is struggling with a wave of unpopularity and internal divisions within his party, fuelled by Zambia's economic problems and anger at perceived corruption.

The country is heavily dependent on copper, demand for which has slumped.

A veteran campaigner and self-made entrepreneur, Hichilema sought the presidency five times between 2006 and 2016.

After narrowly losing in 2016, he spent four months in jail after contesting the outcome.

Hichilema has vowed to step down as leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) if he fails once more.

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