Zambia's acting president appeals for calm

AP News
Posted: Oct 31, 2014 11:14 AM
Zambia's acting president appeals for calm

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Zambian security forces will not tolerate any violence or other illegal activity as the country mourns President Michael Sata, who died after a long illness, Zambia's temporary leader said Friday.

Acting President Guy Scott, a white Zambian of Scottish descent, also told journalists Friday that it is "unacceptable" for Zambians to campaign for a presidential election during the mourning period for Sata, who is scheduled to be buried on Nov. 11.

Under the constitution, a presidential election must be held within 90 days of the death of a president. Scott had been Sata's vice president and is not eligible to run for president because his parents were not Zambian by birth or descent.

"The law enforcement agencies will be vigilant and will not hesitate to step in where inappropriate or illegal activities take place," Scott told reporters after signing a book of condolences for Sata in Lusaka, the Zambian capital.

There will be no Cabinet meetings until after the president's burial, Scott said.

"In times like this, there is both fragility and excitement. This combination can give terrible results unless great care is exercised," he said, citing examples of violent conflicts in the past in Ivory Coast and Africa's Great Lakes region.

Sata's body was expected to arrive in Zambia on Saturday from London, where he died Tuesday in a hospital.

Rumors that Sata was deathly ill had long gripped the southern African nation, and opposition groups had suggested he was not fit to lead a country of 15 million people that has enjoyed strong economic growth but suffers widespread poverty. Sata, 77, had served as president since 2011.