Top Zambia opposition leader freed, treason charges dropped

The Lusaka high court has dropped treason charges against Zambia's most prominent opposition leader and released him from custody.

The United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema had been detained since April. Authorities had accused him of blocking President Edgar Lungu's motorcade with his own convoy.

The Director of Public Prosecutions asked the court to discharge Hichilema.

The opposition leader told supporters Wednesday that "I want to thank God for making this day happen."

The treason case came after Hichilema challenged Lungu in an unusually tense election last year that saw political violence. For years, Zambia had experienced peaceful power transitions that the United States had praised as a "model for Africa."

Human rights groups had called the case against Hichilema an attempt to silence opposing voices.