The BBC is reporting that Zambian president Michael Sata has died, after receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness. The author writes:
“President Sata, who was being treated in the UK, died in London’s King Edward VII hospital on Tuesday night.
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.
‘I urge all of you to remain calm, united and peaceful during this very difficult period,’ Mr. Msiska added.”
Zambia recently celebrated 50 years of independence from British rule on October 24. This year’s anniversary marked the first time in 50 years of independence that Zambia’s sitting head of state was absent at the festivities. Sata was known as “King Cobra” because of his willingness to tell it like it is.
Penny Dale, the BBC’s former Zambia correspondent had this to say about President Sata:
“Gravelly-voiced as a result of years of chain-smoking, Michael Sata rose to political prominence in the 1980s. He quickly earned a reputation as the hardest-working governor while in charge of Lusaka and as a populist man of action. But he was also known for his authoritarian tendencies, an abrasive manner and a sharp tongue – and his critics say his nickname of ‘King Cobra’ was well-deserved.
A devout Catholic, Mr. Sata had worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial rule. After independence, he also spent time in London, working as a railway porter, and, back in Zambia, with a taxidermist company.
On the fourth attempt, Mr. Sata won presidential elections in 2011. At first he looked as if he would keep promises to tackle corruption and create jobs and prosperity. But his term in office was marred by a crackdown on political opposition and a decline in the economy.”
President Sata was 72.
Read more at BBC News.