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Widow of Late Zambian President to Run for Office

  • Reuters

FILE - Wife of the late Zambian President Christine Kaseba Sata, center, is comforted at the funeral of her husband, Michael Sata, in Lusaka, Nov. 11, 2014.

FILE - Wife of the late Zambian President Christine Kaseba Sata, center, is comforted at the funeral of her husband, Michael Sata, in Lusaka, Nov. 11, 2014.

The widow of Zambia's last president has joined nine other candidates seeking to replace him by running for the ruling Patriotic Front's (PF) presidential ticket ahead of a January election.

Christine Kaseba said she wanted to unite the party and build on the achievements of her late husband, Michael Sata, by standing in what analysts have warned could be a divisive contest.

“The grief I feel is nothing compared to the pain that would result from the destruction of his party and abandonment of his ideals,” Kaseba, a pediatrician, said in a story published in The Post newspaper on Thursday.

“I have come to the conclusion that part of the mourning of this great Zambian leader will be in completing the work he began,” she added.

Sata, who was nicknamed “King Cobra” because of his sharp tongue, died in a London hospital from an undisclosed illness last month at the age of 77. He had been president of Zambia, Africa's second-largest copper producer, since 2011.

Jan. 20 vote

The PF is divided over the contest to replace him with supporters of front-runner Edgar Lungu saying a 53-member central committee should pick the candidate for the presidential vote, scheduled for Jan. 20.

Other aspirants, and Zambia's interim leader Guy Scott, want a vote by a general conference, made up of thousands of delegates.

Scott has called for calm and says he plans to hold a meeting with the members of the central committee and all the presidential aspirants this week to agree on the selection process. Scott can not stand himself as his parents were born outside Zambia, in Scotland.

Questions about Zambia's stability arose when Scott fired Lungu as PF secretary-general on Nov. 3, without explaining why. He reinstated him a day later after Lungu's dismissal triggered street protests.

Sata's son Mulenga Sata, the mayor of Lusaka, has also applied to stand, along with former commerce deputy minister Miles Sampa, prominent businessman Geoffrey Mwamba and former diplomat Selemani Banda.

Commerce minister Robert Sichinga, sports minister Chishimba Kabwili, former foreign affairs minister Given Lubinda and agriculture minister Wylbur Simuusa are also in the running.

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