The Law Association of Zambia says President Edgar Lungu must retract his threats against Constitutional Court judges as they reflect the Executive’s interference with the Judiciary.

Yesterday, President Lungu warned that there would be chaos in Zambia if ConCourt judges disqualified him from running for a third term in 2021.

“To my colleagues in the Judiciary, my message is just do your work, interpret the law without fear or favour and look at the best interest of this country. Don’t become a copycat and think that you are a hero if you plunge this country into chaos. Those people who don’t like peace and freedom will say ‘President Lungu is intimidating the courts of law’, I am not intimidating the judiciary, I am just warning you because I have information that some of you want to be adventurous, your adventure should not plunge us into chaos please! In English there is a saying, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. We don’t want to plunge this country into chaos because we are trying to imitate what’s happening elsewhere. We are a beckon of peace and freedom, let us keep it that way. I was on the ballot paper as candidate and I assured that I would protect Zambia and that I will do,” said President Lungu.

But in a statement today, the Council of the Law Association of Zambia demanded that Lungu must retract his statement and allow ConCourt judges to make an independent decision on his eligibility.

“LAZ calls on His Excellency President Lungu to retract his statements and assure the Judiciary and the public that justice will be allowed to prevail no matter the outcome of the impending judgment or decision of the Constitutional Court in the case that will determine his eligibility for election in 2021. Our national unity and the integrity of our democracy depend on the rule of law and justice for all,” the Council of LAZ stated.

The Council of LAZ described President Lungu’s warning as alarming.

“As one of the three arms of government, the Judiciary is an integral part of Zambia’s democracy, ensuring checks and balances on adherence to the rule of law and constitutionalism in the country. The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is therefore alarmed by statements made by the Republican President, Mr Edgar Lungu on 2nd November 2017 at the Solwezi Airport in North Western Province, that appear to threaten the Judiciary against making any adverse ruling against him in the impending judgment on the issue of whether President Lungu is eligible to stand in the presidential election in 2021. LAZ is deeply concerned with the statements especially that they came from the Head of State,” the Council of LAZ stated.

The council stated that such statements undermined the authority of the Judiciary.

“Such statements do little to dispel the notion that the Executive tries to interfere with the work of the Judiciary and that the separation of powers in our democracy is limited. These statements further serve to undermine the authority of the judiciary and erode public confidence in the institution. As such, LAZ condemns these statements unreservedly. LAZ wishes to remind the Republican President, himself a lawyer, of his sworn duty under Article 91 of the Constitution to ‘respect, uphold and safeguard our Constitution; promote democracy and enhance the unity of the nation; promote and protect the rights and freedoms of a person; and uphold the rule of law’,” stated the Council of LAZ.