Zambian government insisted today that President Levy Mwanawasa was
alive - denying media reports he had died in a Paris hospital - and
described South African President Thabo Mbeki's minute of silence in
respect of his counterpart at a rally in Pretoria as "erroneous".
South African radio station, Radio 702, first reported that Mwanawasa
had died, after he had suffered a stroke on the eve of the African
Union summit in Egypt on 29 June and had been taken to the French
capital on 2 July for further treatment.
A frenzy of media
reports followed, after government sources confirmed his death, and
Mbeki asked people gathered at a rally to mourn the scores of foreign
nationals killed in xenophobic attacks, to pay their respects for the
passing of Mwanawasa, who is also the current chairman of the 14-member
Southern African Development Community (SADC) of regional states.
executive secretary of SADC called me to say the president of Zambia,
Levy Mwanawasa, had passed away this morning," Mbeki said in Pretoria,
according to local reports.
This was later corrected by a
Foreign Affairs statement: "The South African government has been
informed that President Mwanawasa has not passed on."
briefing called by the Zambian government, Mike Mulongoti, the
information and broadcasting services minister, reiterated an earlier
statement made on Zambian national television.
we are happy with the progress made so far on the health of Dr Levy
Patrick Mwanawasa ... President of the Republic of Zambia. He is still
in hospital and his condition is stable. He has continued receiving
treatment for hypertension from the Intensive Care Unit of Percy
Military Hospital, and there are no new developments. He had a
satisfactory night at Percy Military Hospital in Paris, France."
to the current constitution, which is under review, should a president
die in office, elections should be held within 90 days.