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Former President Banda's Immunity Removed To Clear Way For Sata's Successor, Says Lawyer

LONDON, March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Following the disputed removal of immunity of the former President of Zambia Rupiah Banda and his arrest on trumped up charges, his international lawyer Robert Amsterdam says that the persecution forms part of the ruling party's plan to transfer power from President Michael Sata to a successor.

"Now that we are seeing media reports about the Patriotic Front's preparations for a presidential by-election after President Sata steps down, it explains why such a poorly organised trumped up case was brought against former President Banda," said Amsterdam.  "Their goal is not to administer justice, but instead their goal is to remove former President Banda from the equation in order to hold onto power."

Amsterdam referred to a report published on the news website Zambian Watchdog on 28 March 2013 citing inside sources who said that the removal of former President Banda's immunity was the final step in the PF's plan for the transition and subsequent presidential campaign, because the ruling party believes that he has "the financial capacity and contacts to raise campaign funds from friends at short-notice."

Another editorial published on 26 March 2013 in government-aligned Post Newspaper written by owner Fred M'membe began to lay the groundwork for the transition to new leadership.  M'membe writes, "We do not foresee a succession crisis in the Patriotic Front when the time for Michael and his current crop of top party leaders comes to step aside."

"We are deeply concerned about the undemocratic conduct of the ruling party, which has sought to impose false cases against opposition figures with the goal of eliminating political competition," Amsterdam said.  "We continue to maintain close communication with the governments of neighboring African states and international institutions who are committed to helping the Zambian people maintain its status as a free and fair democracy."

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