Sunday, 7 September 2008

Zambia: President Dies

The Post (Buea)

Clodette Ndanda & Ledi Akwo

After suffering from a stroke attack in June, at an African Union Summit in Egypt, Zambian President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, died on August 19, in Percy Military Hospital Paris, France. He died at the age of 59.

According to BBC report, the announcement was made few hours after his death on Zambian State Television by Vice-President, Banda Rupiah, who is expected to take over as acting president of the country.

He also informed the Zambians that national mourning would last for seven days beginning from the day of his death, urging Zambians to remain calm and mourn their President with dignity.

BBC reports that on Monday, the acting President said, the Head of State underwent an emergency surgery, after his health suddenly deteriorated.

"President Mwanawasa's health has always been a problem even before he started his presidential mandate."

On December 8, 1991, Mwanawasa was involved in a serious traffic accident in which his aide died on the spot. He suffered multiple body injuries and was flown to Johannesburg, South Africa, for medical attention. He was hospitalised for three months. A lasting effect of the accident was his noticeably slurred speech.

Mwanawasa suffered a minor stroke in April 2006, barely four months before the general elections.On July 3, rumours made the rounds that Mwanawasa had died in a Paris hospital due to his stroke. As the rumours were spreading, South African President, Thabo Mbeki, called for a moment of silence in honour of Mwanawasa.

Zambian Minister of Information, Mike Mulongoti, speaking for the government, had dismissed the information as "false". The South African government quickly apologised for the misapprehension and expressed Mbeki's hopes for Mwanawasa's recovery.Banda gave an update of Mwanawasa's condition on July 24, saying that he was making steady progress in his recovery.

Uncertainty regarding Banda's optimistic updates was reportedly widespread.The Minister of Health, Brian Chituwo, speaking before the National Assembly on August 8, said that Mwanawasa's healing process will indeed be long due to the serious nature of his illness.

President Mwanawasa became prominent recently, because, he was one of the most critical African leaders of the divisive election in Zimbabwe. He said he sympathised with Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai for diminishing from the run-off because of attacks on his supporters.

After pressing for Frederick Chilluba's immunity from prosecution to be lifted, the former Zambian President charged with stealing money during his term of office, Mwanawasa fell out with his predecessor, who selected him to lead the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy, MMD.

Who Is Mwanawasa

Levy Mwanawasa was born in Mufulira, Northern Rhodesia as the second of 10 children in 1948 .He held a law degree from the University of Zambia and was married to Maureen Mwanawasa. He had six children, two from his first marriage and four with Maureen.

He worked in private law firms from 1974 until 1978 when he formed his own firm; Mwanawasa & Company.

In 1985, Mwanawasa served as Solicitor General in the Zambian government but he went back to private practice in 1986. After Frederick Chiluba was elected President, he appointed Mwanawasa as Vice-President in December 1991.

Relevant Links

Since 1973, he had been a practicing lawyer. In his most famous case, he defended former Vice-President, Lieutenant General Christon Tembo and others who were charged with plotting to overthrow Kenneth Kaunda in 1989.

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