Zambian President Michael Sata has died at the age of 77 after receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, the government says.
President Sata, who was being treated in the UK, died in London’s King Edward VII hospital on Tuesday October 28, 2014 .
Media said that he died after “a sudden onset [of] heightened heart rate”. It is not immediately clear who will succeed the president. The issue may be decided by the Zambian cabinet which meets on Wednesday morning.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing on of our beloved president,” cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said on national TV. He said that Mr Sata’s wife and son were at his bedside.
Michael Sata, defeated incumbent Rupiah Banda in the 2011 presidential election. Banda’s Movement for Multi-party Democracy party had run Zambia since one-party rule ended in 1991. With 95% of constituencies counted, Sata had 1,150,045 votes – 43% of the total – compared to Banda’s 961,796.
The 74-year-old Sata – nicknamed King Cobra because of his venomous tongue – toned down his rhetoric against foreign mining firms in the closing stages of the six-week campaign, but in the earlier stages of the campaign, he accused Chinese mining firms of creating slave labour conditions with scant regard for safety or local culture. The Chinese had become key players in Zambia’s economy by investing over $2bn by the end of 2010. Sata’s election was a truly a popular result that has cut across ethnicity, gender, religion and race.
Vice-President Guy Scott has regularly stood in for the president at official events, but has never been appointed acting president in Mr Sata’s absence. Mr Scott is of Scottish descent and his parents were not born in Zambia, so he may fall foul of a constitutional clause on parentage which would nullify his candidacy.