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Zambian President To Name Cabinet Today

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa is expected to hold a news conference today to announce his new cabinet and members of his government. This follows his successful re-election in the September 28 general tripartite elections. Analysts speculate that he will name a new vice president after incumbent Lupando Mwape lost his parliamentary seat in the elections.

Sources say the new vice president will be tipped to be Mwanawasa's successor in the 2011 general elections and may have to run the country even before that, as Mwanawasa is facing health problems following a stroke in April.

John Musukuma is special assistant to President Levy Mwanawasa. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about today’s expected news conference.

“I can confirm that President Mwanawasa will be holding a press conference this morning at 10 hours (8:00 UTC) at State House,” he said.

”The press conference will be for the President to announce his new cabinet and new members of government. As you may recall, cabinet was dissolved in accordance with the Zambian constitution. Now that we’ve had an election, and the President has been re-elected, he will be in a position to name a new cabinet,” he noted.

Musukuma says that President Mwanawasa has the mandate to name whomever he wants in his new cabinet despite speculations that are rife in the country.

“… It is the President’s prerogative to name a cabinet, make appointments in accordance with the provisions with the Zambian constitution and the laws that apply to the constitution. Therefore, whatever is being said is pure speculation, as the appointment is firmly the prerogative of the President,” he said.

Meanwhile, Musukuma also responds to the claim by main opposition leader Michael Sata that Mwanawasa stole the vote to garner a second and final term.

“I think in terms of the constitution, we can quote all the monitoring groups, the European Union, the African Union, the Commonwealth, monitoring teams, the local monitors. All are unanimous in having described the elections are fair and having been held in an environment that is internationally accepted. Therefore there is really no basis for anybody to criticize the elections because they were under scrutiny by all these international bodies,” he noted.

Musukuma says Mwanawasa is still embracing every one and is urging Zambians not to be divided but unite and forge ahead to a better life.

“… I think I will refer you to his inaugural speech. The President stated that there are no winners there are no losers. We are all Zambians. The elections should not divide us as a nation. I think that is the fundamental issue. And basically that is what Zambians will expect him (Mwanawasa) to do, to serve Zambia as their servant…. He is the servant of Zambia, not the boss of Zambia and I think that sets the tone,” he said.

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