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PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says he has defied public perception by not jailing former President Edgar Lungu.

In an interview with the BBC, President Hichilema, when asked to explain his relationship with his predecessor said, “He put me behind bars15 times. The perception of the people was that I will put him behind bars, but I have defied that perception.”

The President, who is attending the United Nations general assembly in New York, also said the fight against corruption was not persecution as portrayed by members of the opposition. 

He explained that leaders in the previous regime put money in the construction sector because it is easier to steal.

“They borrowed money and put it in areas such as road construction where it was easy to steal the money,” Mr Hichilema said.

“And when the public says we want what belongs to us, how does that become political vindictiveness?”

Asked if it is true that his government was using some of the same repressive laws to put people behind bars with hard labour for insulting him (the president), Mr Hichilema said, there are anonymously insulting him since he won the presidency. He however said there is a law to deal with that.

Mr Hichilema also said one of the things which his party had promised to do was to restore the rule of law, “which we have done.”

The President also explained that the SADC should be assertive and tell leaders that one cannot shed blood to assume leadership of a country. “Dictatorships and military coups are unacceptable.

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