Zambian President Michael Sata has become the second to die on the throne since 2008, sparking fear among Zambians that time is ripe for the Southern African nation to turn to God.
Michael Sata’s death, which happened in London’s King Edward VII hospital on Tuesday, came after that of President Levy Mwanawasa who died of stroke in June 2008. He was replaced by Vice President Rupiah Banda until Michael Sata, a fierce politician was elected into office barely three years ago.
Sata, 77, is replaced by Vice-President Guy Scott who is not qualified to run for office. Zambians are expected to go to the polls within 90 days to choose Mr. Sata’s permanent successor, Defence Minister Edgar Lungu said.
Sata’s replacement has become the first white man President in Africa since that of South Africa’s FW de Klerk 20 years ago.
The cause of his death, which came few days after Zambia marked its 50th independence from Britain, was not disclosed to the public.
The news was confirmed by Mr. Scott in a televised address. He declared the period of national mourning, saying the “our beloved President and Comrade will be missed.”
His wife and son were reported to be at his bedside until he answered to his Lord.
Sata, the fifth Zambian President since independence, was flown to London for medical check-up on October 19 amid riving speculation that he was seriously ill. Nicknamed King Cobra, Sata who had vigorously campaigned for economic equality for ordinary Zambians, rose to political prominence in the 1980s.
He earlier served as a hard working Governor of the capital Lusaka. Sata, a devout Catholic, also worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial era. He won presidential elections on the fourth attempt in 2011.