Teen faces libel charges for allegedly defaming Zambia president on Facebook


For Facebook posts allegedly defaming Zambia’s president, a fifteen year old boy has been arrested by the police in what critics calls an increasingly authoritarian administration.

The unnamed teenager, based in the small central town of Kapiri Mposhi, was arrested on Monday and charged with three counts of libel against Edgar Lungu. He will appear in court soon, police said.

“Police have charged and arrested a male juvenile aged 15 years for the offence of defamation of the president,” Esther Katongo, a police spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The suspect is alleged to have created a Facebook page using the name ‘Zoom’ and published defamatory matters against the republican president.”

The boy faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

One of his posts read: “Which other name can you name a dog apart from Edgar Lungu?” Another said: “We are better off as a country without Edgar Lungu.”

Lungu, in power since 2015, has faced mounting complaints that he is cracking down on dissent and seeking to consolidate power before next year’s elections. A number of opposition leaders have been arrested in recent years on charges of defaming him.

The outspoken hip-hop musician and activist Fumba Chama, AKA Pilato, has also previously been arrested over anti-government protests.

On one occasion, he was arrested over his hit song KosweMumpoto (Rat in the Pot), which supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front party saw as an attack on Lungu and his government. (Source: The Guardian)