Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa Dies Aged 59
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa died at the age of 59 today two months after suffering a stroke.
Mwanawasa became president in 2001, after which he fought corruption and became an outspoken critic of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.
Doctors at the Percy military hospital near Paris had performed emergency surgery on Mwanawasa yesterday following a sharp deterioration in his condition. Though the operation was initially described as successful, Zambian state television broke the news of the death this morning.
"Fellow countrymen, with deep sorrow and grief, I would like to inform the people of Zambia that our president Dr Levy Patrick Mwanawasa died this morning at 1030 hours," said the vice-president, Rupiah Banda. "I also wish to inform the nation that national mourning starts today and will be for seven days."
Banda will take over as acting president until elections, expected to be held within 90 days.
While in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for an African Union summit, Mwanawasa was hospitalized due to a stroke on June 29, 2008. On July 1, he was flown to France for further treatment. The head of the Egyptian hospital to which Mwanawasa was taken said that the doctors there had stopped the brain hemorrhage and that he was in a semi-comatose state.