Political Risk Analysis - Hichilema Arrest Will Increase Political Tension - JUNE 2017

BMI View: The arrest of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema will keep political tension in Zambia elevated in the months ahead, increasing the risk of widespread social unrest. With low copper prices already undermining investor sentiment, any deterioration in the country ' s political stability would only further weigh on growth.

Zambia faces rising risks of widespread social unrest in the months ahead, following the April 11 arrest of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. Political tension between the government and opposition has been high since the August 2016 presidential election. Indeed, while the results showed incumbent candidate Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) winning a narrow victory over Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), opposition leaders have refused to accept the results, claiming the election was rigged. (International observers also highlighted concerns over the conduct of the election, including noting voter intimidation and illegal restrictions on opposition campaigning.) With signs that the government has chosen to take an increasingly hard line in the face of the opposition dissent, this risks further enflaming discontent, especially in an environment of already weak economic growth and cutbacks to popular subsidies.

Government Crackdown Will Exacerbate Unrest

PF Edged Out UPND
Zambia - 2016 Presidential Election Results, % Of Total Votes
Source: Electoral Commission Of Zambia

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