Zambia’s former president has been told by police to stop jogging in public with supporters, with officers describing the runs as “political activism”.
Police said Edgar Lungu’s exercise sessions accompanied by members of his Patriotic Front (PF) party amounted to “unlawful assembly”. They said he should only be escorted by official bodyguards.
The 66-year-old former head of state was ordered to warn police in advance when planning to jog in the future “to ensure public safety and traffic management”.
Mr Lungu lost power to incumbent Hakainde Hichilema in 2021 and announced his withdrawal from politics shortly afterwards. Yet he is widely believed to be considering a comeback ahead of the country’s 2026 elections.
A police statement said officers “noted with concern the unlawful assembly and political activism that was conducted by Patriotic cadres…when the former president was conducting his morning jogging routine”.
Rae Hamoonga, a police spokesman, said Mr Lungu’s group jogs had disrupted traffic. He added such gatherings “should be notified to the police as by law established”.
“Failure to do so amounts to a breach of the law,” Mr Hamoonga said.
He warned such displays would not be tolerated again.
Anti-corruption witch hunt
“Such a procession of a former Head of State should be done with his security detail and devoid of political activism,” Mr Hamoonga said.
Mr Lungu took the Zambian government to court last week, alleging it had unlawfully blocked him from travelling to South Korea for a world peace conference. He later withdrew the allegations.
Mr Hichilema swept away Mr Lungu’s government with a landslide election victory in a country regarded as one of Southern Africa’s strongest democracies.
Mr Lungu and his supporters have since alleged the former president is the victim of a politically motivated anti-corruption witch hunt. Mr Hichilema has said the fight against corruption is not meant to victimise his political opponents.
Zambian police arrested Mr Lungu’s wife, Esther, earlier this month.
She and four others were charged with motor vehicle theft. The former first lady was also charged with the possession of property believed to be from the proceeds of crime.
Her lawyer called the charges “quite preposterous”.
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