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Opposition party supporters threaten to kill "Post" reporter

(MISA/IFEX) - On 24 November 2010, United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters threatened to kill "The Post" Assistant News Editor George Chella.

The UPND supporters threatened Chella when they attacked him at the place he had parked his car at the UPND Secretariat in Lusaka. The editor had gone to cover a press conference by members of parliament for the third largest opposition party in Lusaka, the UPND.

According to media reports monitored by MISA-Zambia, the supporters attacked Chella, forcing him to lock himself inside his car for about 15 minutes. Chella made frantic calls to two UPND MPs while in his car but his calls were not answered. During the time he was making the calls, one UPND MP, Request Muntanga, who witnessed the unfolding incident, rushed to restrain the cadres who had surrounded Chella's car and were stripping it of its rim covers.

Meanwhile, one of the members of parliament he had phoned later returned his call and rushed to the scene when he learned of the situation in a bid to restrain the party's supporters who were shouting threats of violence, death and insults to Chella.

The two MPs ordered that the vehicles be moved to pave the way for Chella to drive off.

According to a 25 November 2010 report in "The Post", the supporters were bitter about the manner in which the newspaper had been covering the UPND and were urging Chella to report positively on what had transpired during the press conference that the opposition party MPs had just hosted.

"Are you George Chella? If you are the one let me warn you that we don't care who you are and what you do. You should write good things over this meeting. If you don't we will come after you. I can assure you that the next time we see you, we will burn you alive," said one of the cadres amidst insults. "We are not like these people you are fond of meeting. We don't take nonsense and we can kill for HH (Hakainde Hichilema, the party president). We will kill you if you are playing with us. We will stab you with knives. You think we are happy with what you write about our president.

"Try us and you will see. Even now we can do that because you are in our territory. You just want to be writing good things about Sata and not our president. We will start beating you like we used to do during the days of Mazoka," the report quoted the party supporters as saying.

Earlier, during a press briefing question and answer session, Sinazongwe Member of Parliament Raphael Muyanda declared "The Post" as their first enemy. He said the newspaper would not succeed in dividing the UPND.

The press conference was convened by the UPND parliamentarians to deny allegations made by the newspaper that the party was in dialogue with the ruling party over an alliance and condemned other related stories that had brought into jeopardy a pact between the Patriotic Front and the UPND. The parliamentarians claimed that the paper was running unsubstantiated stories that were negatively impacting on the pact between their party and another opposition party.

Chella has reported the threats he received and the damage caused to his vehicle by the UPND cadres to the police.

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