Zambia is seen as one of Africa’s more stable and functional democracies.

But Political tension have been rising since the arrest on treason charges of main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who narrowly lost to Lungu in a bruising election last year.

Edgar Lungu, Zambian President invoked a state of emergency on Wednesday in a move likely to trigger fresh accusations of government authoritarianism.

Hichilema, along with five others, is accused of trying to overthrow the government after a column of opposition vehicles failed to make way for the president’s motorcade.

Zambian state of emergency laws states that, the police can prohibit public meetings, close roads, impose curfews and restrict movements.

The last state of emergency was declared in 1997 by then president Frederick Chiluba after an attempted coup. It was lifted the following year.

Police have said some people were planning to vandalise vital installations, including bridges and power stations.

Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development, was arrested in April when police raided his home and charged him with trying to overthrow the government.

An economist and businessman widely known by his initials “HH”, Hichilema was defeated in August last year by Lungu in an election that the opposition politician denounced as fraudulent. His attempts to mount a legal challenge have been unsuccessful.