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Zambia arrests 15-year-old for 'defaming' president on Facebook

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

FILE: Zambian President Edgar Lungu. Picture: United Nations Photo.

LUSAKA - A 15-year-old boy was arrested in Zambia for allegedly defaming President Edgar Lungu in Facebook posts, police said Wednesday as critics accuse the regime of turning increasingly authoritarian.

The unnamed teenager based in the central small town of Kapiri Mposhi was arrested on Monday and charged with three counts of libel. 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," police spokesperson Esther Katongo 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 juvenile faces a maximum five-year jail term.

One of his posts read "which other name can you name a dog apart from Edgar Lungu", while another said "we are better off as a country without Edgar Lungu".

Lungu, in power since 2015, faces mounting complaints that he is cracking down on dissent and seeking to consolidate power ahead of next year's elections.

A few opposition leaders have been arrested in recent years on charges of defaming Lungu.

Outspoken hip-hop musician and activist Chama "Pilato" Fumba has also been previously arrested over his anti-government protests.

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

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