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Zambia ex-president questioned by investigators

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Zambia's former president Rupiah Banda was questioned for more than three hours by government investigators Monday, just days after parliament voted to strip him of his immunity from prosecution.

Banda -- who ruled the country from 2008 to 2011 -- faces allegations of corruption, money laundering and fraud, which his lawyers say are part of a political ploy to silence dissenting views.

Questioning ended Monday without him being charged or arrested.

Namukolo Kasumpa, a spokeswoman for the criminal investigations department, said Banda would return for further questioning on Tuesday.

He emerged from the meeting to meet a throng of supporters, and called on them to stay calm.

"We only have one country and let's keep it peaceful even under provocation," he said.

Banda lost to rival Michael Sata in 2011 elections, which at the time were lauded as a model in peaceful handover of power in Africa.

But Sata has since launched an anti-corruption drive seen by many as a scheme to silence dissenting views.

On Friday -- with the backing of Sata's party -- parliament voted to strip Banda of his presidential immunity.

The former president's lawyer Robert Amsterdam described the case against his client as "a crass political strategy aimed at removing potential competitors."

But Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba has claimed that when he was president, Banda engaged in corrupt activities in the procurement of crude oil from a Nigerian firm.

He also accuses him of funnelling taxpayer cash into his election campaigns.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International has supported calls for lifting Banda's immunity so he can answer the charges against him.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130318/zambia-ex-president-questioned-investigators-0