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"The Post" targeted in two separate incidents

(MISA/IFEX) - On 11 May 2009, a vendor selling copies of the independent newspaper "The Post" was beaten and copies of the newspaper torn by Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) supporters in North Western Province's capital, Solwezi. The vendor, Deaven Mwanamwale, was cornered by the MMD activists on the pretext that they wanted to buy a newspaper from him at the Council guest house.

According to "The Post" edition of 12 May 2009, the MMD supporters immediately pounced on Mwanamwale when he arrived to deliver the paper at the guest house. They kicked him to the ground while others grabbed copies of the newspaper and destroyed them. Mwanamwale was saved by quick action from the police who were on the scene. The vendor was hidden in a police vehicle for 30 minutes before being released.

The party activists said they were angry with the newspaper for "insulting" the president, saying that it had gone too far in using bad language on the president. "You see the headline is about insulting the president. This is what we don't want. We are going to make sure that you stop selling this newspaper here," one of the supporters was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Mwanamwale meanwhile questioned why the MMD supporters had attacked him when he was simply selling the newspaper.

In a separate incident, on 11 May, police in Luanshya, in Copperbelt Province, interrogated and cautioned two "Post" journalists following a story published in the 9 May edition of the newspaper which quoted the president as calling opposition MP Chishima Kambwili "a scrap metal dealer." In an interview with "The Post", the MP later retaliated, calling the president "a foolish leader."

The two reporters, who were interrogated by a criminal investigations officer for over an hour, were accompanied by Copperbelt "Post" editor Speedwell Mupuchi, regional manager Brenda Nyirenda and lawyer Kasenge Kaunda. The MP later apologised to the president in "The Post" of 12 May, alleging that the newspaper had misquoted him.

Commenting on the interrogation of the journalists in the 12 May edition of "The Post", Copperbelt Police Commanding Officer Anthoneil Mutentwa said:"He [Kambwili] denied [the statement]…He said you people misquoted him, but he apologised for the injury, the humiliation the story may have caused the President. But we would rather he does that through the newspaper."

A warned and cautioned statement from the MP was also recorded.

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