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Zambia6 January 2004

High Court suspends expulsion of Post editorialist

The High Court in Lusaka suspended the expulsion of British writer and editorialist for The Post, Roy Clarke, late on 5 January. However the charge of insulting President Mwanawasa remains and is to be investigated at a date not yet made public.


Government orders expulsion of British-born writer who criticised president

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned as "disproportionate and unjustified" the expulsion of British-born editorialist Roy Clarke (photo) of the independent Zambian daily, The Post, who was given 24 hours to leave the country for having "insulted" president Mwanawasa. Clarke, who was ordered out on 5 January, wrote a weekly satirical leader article in the Lusaka-based independent daily. (JPEG)

"Mr Clarke’s article which was very critical of Zambian leaders could never justify expulsion from the country," said Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, urging the government to immediately lift the expulsion order. "The argument that he ’insulted’ President Levy Mwanawasa is unacceptable because it allows heavy penalties to be imposed for the slightest disagreeable remark about the head of state," he said. "Since he came to power in 2002, the head of state has kept the national media in check by making use of the press law that strongly penalises the authors of articles that criticise him. Now he attacks a foreign journalist by banishing him from the country to silence him," he added.

The secretary general at the interior ministry, Peter Mumba, said Clarke’s offence was to have written an editorial in The Post on 1 January, based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It referred to members of the government as animals in the African jungle and the president by the name "Mawelewe", which in local dialect means "idiot".

Clarke, a writer, publishes an editorial in The Post every Thursday. Married to a Zambian, he has lived and worked in the country for more than 30 years. His editorials, entitled, "The Spectator" are political and socio-economic satires on contemporary Zambian society.

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