World Council of Churches condemns Zambian pastor's arrest

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has condemned the detention of a Zambian pastor for organising a meeting of pastors to discuss the country's economic crisis.

Pastor George Chibubi is chair of the Ndola Pastors Fellowship. He and other pastors had gathered to discuss the country's looming debt crisis in a meeting convened by the Centre for Trade Policy and Development when police were allegedly told to arrest them.

The general secretary of the Wold Council of Churches has appealed to Zambia's President Edgar Chagwa Lungu.Reuters

The WCC's Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit joined other Zambian and international advocates urging President Edgar Lungu to release Chibubi as well as others who may be detained.

'We condemn the arrest, detainment and harassment of pastors and other people attempting to meet as part of a civil society discussing, in a democratic fashion, ways to improve the lives of people in Zambia,' said Tveit. 'The WCC stands in solidarity with the church leaders in Zambia as they attempt to communicate with the government and the people.'

Alleged evidence of police brutality in Zambia has alarmed the world, Tveit added. 'Oppression and brutality have no place in creating a nation of peace that is sustainable for all,' he said.

Much of Zambia's debt was wiped clean in 2005 under the IMF's 'Heavily Indebted Poor Countries' (HIPC) scheme. However, a decade later its debt now stands at 59 per cent of GDP, a figure blamed on corruption and irresponsible borrowing, particularly from China. UK aid to Zambia is suspended after fraud allegations.