Zambia's former President Frederick Chiluba has expressed
shock after officially receiving information of the death of President Patrick
Levy Mwanawasa at a hospital in the French capital, Paris. Mwanawasa died
Tuesday nearly two months after he suffered stroke at a recent African Union
summit in Cairo, Egypt. Chiluba
called to express his condolences to the first family and the ruling Movement
for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). He also called on Zambians to remain calm and
support Vice President Rupiah Banda totally in what he described as challenging
President Banda is expected to take over as acting president under Zambia's
constitution before early elections are held. Some political analysts say
Mwanawasa's demise will create political uncertainty after he narrowly defeated
main opposition leader Michael Sata in the 2006 presidential election. Sata
reportedly accused Mwanawasa of selling out Zambia to Chinese and Indian
President Chiluba's spokesman Emmanuel Mwamba tells reporter Peter Clottey from
the capital, Lusaka, that Mwanawasa was a champion of democracy.
"He (former President
Chiluba) was very saddened by the news that the country had lost President
Mwanawasa to the stroke although President Mwanawasa has been unwell since June
29. We were hopeful and prayerful that he will fight the effects of this stroke
and pull through. So, he was very saddened that President Mwanawasa died, and
he has expressed his condolences to the acting President, His Excellency Mr.
Rupiah Banda. And he has wished his deepest sympathy to the first family to the
government to the MMD and to the country at large," Mwamba noted.
He said the former president
and Mwanawasa have always been great friends.
"They had a very
longstanding relationship that dates back to their days in Ndola, a town on the
copper belt. They worked together. He (Chiluba) was in the trade union and
President Mwanawasa was a lawyer, and he was consulted several times in those
early days. At the dawn of democracy in 1990, they forged a friendship for the
service of this country. President Chiluba was president, and Mr. Mwanawasa was
his vice in the party. And when President Chiluba won elections in 1991, he
invited Mwanawasa to be his vice, and Mr. Mwanawasa was the vice president of
the republic. So they have a very strong longstanding relationship," he said.
Mwamba said the relationship
between the former president and Mwanawasa stood the test of time.
"Even when President
Mwanawasa resigned as vice president and after so many years, and even when
President Chiluba's terms came to an end, he still went to President Mwanawasa
and called upon him to be his successor. He (Chiluba) campaigned for him and
President Mwanawasa assumed office in 2002," Mwamba noted.
said the former president is urging all Zambians to remain calm and fully
support the government.
"At this critical time he
has urged Zambians to be calm, to remain peaceful, as they are known to allow
the transition to pass with peace. And we are blessed as a country that we are
a constitutional government and our constitution is supreme and our
constitution outlines what happens in the circumstances where there is vacancy
in the presidency. And in this case, we have a vacancy caused by death. So we
are a constitutional democracy. He has urged the country to remain peaceful,
legal, and ensure that we help the current vice president who is now acting
president to take us through this very difficult period," he said.