Former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba dies in Lusaka

By Nqobile Charles Bhebhe

Posted on June 18, 2011 06:35

Frederick Chiluba, Zambia’s former leader, died on Saturday, June 18, 2011, at his residency in Lusaka, the southern African country’s capital. He was 68.

Chiluba, a former bus conductor and trade union leader, succumbed after years of suffering from acute heart problems.

According to first official reports from his spokesperson, Emmanual Mwamba, the late Chiluba had a normal Friday, conducting political meetings.

However, his personal physician was called in later that evening after he complained that he was not feeling well. And after mid-night he died, Mwamba said.

Chiluba, who led Zambia for a decade, was hailed as a democrat when he dismantled liberation hero Kenneth Kaunda’s communist single party.

After ousting Kaunda- who had spent 27 years in power, in Zambia’s multiparty elections in 1991, Chiluba was re-elected in 1996. He was however forced to leave office after an attempt to modify the country’s constitution to enable him run for a third five-year term failed.

The former Zambian leader was the subject of a long investigation and trial regarding alleged corruption after leaving office; he was eventually acquitted in 2009 after a six-year trial.

Chiluba, who had been accused of diverting nearly US$500,000 of state money for his own use, was acquitted when the judge ruled that the funds could not be traced to government coffers.

But whilst the late Chiluba had claimed to be the victim of a political witch-hunt backed by Britain, Zambia’s former colonial ruler, several people close to him – including his wife – were convicted on related charges.

At the time of his death, Chiluba had been heavily involved in presidential campaigns after endorsing current leader Ruphia Banda for a second term in office.

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