Zambian president dies after stroke

Officials declare seven days of mourning following the death of Levy Mwanawasa.

    Mwanawasa won praise for his economic reforms and anti-corruption drive [AFP]

    Mwanawasa's health deteriorated after he suffered a stroke while attending an African Union summit in Egypt in June.

    He was rushed to a hospital in Paris, the French capital and a statement on Monday night indicated that the president's health had taken a turn for the worse.

    Outspoken president

    Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's first post-independence president, said his country had "lost a visionary, a leader".

    "We need to be united during this period of mourning. Indeed, our country has been plunged in a situation of uncertainty but we need a unity of purpose," he said.

    Mwanawasa was elected president in 2002 - Zambia's third president since independence from Britain in 1964 - in an election disputed by his opponents.

    But he won praise for his anti-corruption and economic modernisation drive in one of the world's biggest copper producers, but was unable to lift his nation out of poverty.

    In recent months, he broke African leader's traditional silence towards the actions of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, describing Zimbabwe as a "catastrophe" and criticising the the 2008 presidential elections.

    Under Zambia's constitution, elections are meant to be held within 90 days of his death.

    Vice-president Banda is expected to take over as acting president until then.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.