Edgar pushes contested constitutional reforms

14 September, 2019 12:00 AM printer

LUSAKA: Zambian President Edgar Lungu said on Friday his government would go ahead with proposed constitutional amendments despite flak from opposition leaders and civil society groups, reports AFP.

Lungu, in power since 2015, is facing mounting complaints that he is cracking down on dissent and seeking to consolidate power with reforms that sap parliament.

The amendments will remove parliament’s oversight over debt, cabinet appointments and the formation of a coalition when a candidate fails to win a simple majority in an election.

The reforms were scheduled to go before parliament on Friday.

In his address to parliament, Lungu asked MPs to support the amendments, dismissing criticism by saying the reforms were for the public good.

“We braved the storm to deliver the constitution and we mean every word we say. Support the current process,” he said.

“If you don’t want to refine it, we will refine it. Zambians clamoured for the constitution amendments.”

Several opposition leaders have criticised the proposal, citing fears they will curb lawmakers’ ability to censure Lungu and the ruling Patriotic Front party.

“This bill must be withdrawn immediately. It is meant to give Lungu more powers,” opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has said.