Zambia's interim leader suspends cabinet meetings

Lusaka, Oct 31 (IANS) Zambia’s interim leader Guy Scott Friday announced suspension of cabinet meetings until after the burial of late President Michael Sata.

Scott, the country’s vice-president, who became interim leader of the southern African nation following Sata’s death in London Tuesday night, said he has also suspended national executive meetings of the governing Patriotic Front (PF), Xinhua reported citing state-broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.

In remarks delivered after he signed a book of condolences in honour of Sata, Zambia’s acting president also banned campaigns by members of the governing party who want to stand as candidates in a presidential election to be held in three months’ time.

He said he wanted to make history by organising credible presidential elections.

Police have since been put on high alert, he added.

There has been confusion in the governing party following the appointment of Scott as acting president.

On Thursday, party members in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, protested the appointment of Scott as acting president, saying it was against Sata’s wish.

Sata, who appointed Scott as his deputy after winning the 2011 general elections, never allowed him to act each time the Zambian leader was out of the country, forcing opposition political parties to label him as a “ceremonial vice president”.

But Musa Mwenya, the government’s chief legal advisor, said the appointment of Scott was in line with the country’s constitution.

The 70-year-old Scott, who becomes Zambia’s first white leader after the country gained independence from Britain in 1964, will have to organise elections within 90 days, though he is not eligible to stand due to a parentage clause in the country’s constitution.

This is because his parents were not born in Zambia.

Sata, 77, died Tuesday night at London’s King Edward VII Hospital where he had gone for medical check-ups.

The government has since announced a 14-day mourning period while his remains will arrive in the southern African nation Saturday.

Zambia’s fifth president will be buried at the Embassy Park in the Zambian capital where two other presidents, Levy Mwanawasa and Fredrick Chiluba, are buried. The burial will be preceded by a church service to be held at the ultra-modern National Heroes Stadium.

Sata becomes the second Zambian leader to die while in office after Mwanawasa who died in August 2008. He became president of the southern African nation after winning the 2011 elections.

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