The Zambian government has withdrawn the retirement benefits and privileges of former President Edgar Lungu following his decision to return to active politics.
Mr Lungu lost the presidency to Hakainde Hichilema in 2021, after which he announced his retirement.
After six years in power, he left the country facing serious economic problems, the country being the most indebted in Africa.
His return to politics sets the stage for a bruising presidential race in 2026.
The former president has already been informed of the immediate withdrawal of his retirement benefits and privileges, according to government spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa.
He said it was clearly stated in the law that former presidents who returned to politics would lose their benefits.
As a retired president, Mr Lungu was entitled to three security guards, a diplomatic passport, three state cars, a furnished house, medical insurance and funeral expenses upon his death.
He also enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Mweetwa said the former leader would now be treated with “equality before the law” like any other elderly person in the country.
Mr Lungu aims to capitalize on growing discontent over the country’s continued economic woes under his successor.
Civil society groups also expressed concern over what they described as a “diminishing” of human rights freedoms in the country.
He also pledged to save his former ruling factional party, the Patriotic Front, from collapse. The government has threatened to deregister the party over leadership disputes.
The government spokesperson denied Mr Lungu’s recent statements that supporters of the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) were targeting him.
He described Mr Lungu’s comments that his life had been threatened as “a simple false alarm”, saying the former leader was as safe “as any other citizen”.
Mr. Lungu was, however, warned against a policy of confrontation against the government of President Hichilema.
It is unclear whether his immunity from prosecution will be lifted.
The Zambian parliament revoked the right to immunity of two former presidents: Frederick Chiluba in 2002 and Rupiah Banda in 2013.
Some members of the ruling UPND have called for his immunity to be lifted and prosecution for alleged corruption during his tenure. Mr Lungu said the allegations were politically motivated.