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Zambia tries separatists in treason trial

Monday - 9/16/2013, 1:16pm  ET

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) -- Dozens of people accused of treason go on trial in Zambia this week as the government seeks to quell a separatist movement in the west.

Some 59 people were arrested after a breakaway group tried to replace the Zambian flag with their own banner in Western Province. The group, Linyunga-ndambo, says the province can alleviate poverty if it runs its own affairs.

The group's leader, Afumba Mombotwa, escaped arrest and is in hiding. He is a former communications officer at the Zambian foreign ministry. The trial of his supporters begins Tuesday. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

The government pledges more development in the province, home to the Lozi ethnic group. The area, a former British protectorate, was united with the rest of Zambia at independence in 1964.

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