Levy Mwanawasa, the President of Zambia died yesterday at age 59. He died in a Paris hospital in France. His death was intially announced by an anonymous family member. It was later confirmed on television by vice president Rupiah Banda.
Mwanawase suffered a stroke while in Egypt in June of this year for an African Union summit, whereafter he was flown to France. His condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday.
"I also wish to inform the nation that national mourning starts today and will be for seven days," said Banda.
United States President George W. Bush expressed condolences and referred to Mwanawasa as "a champion of democracy in his own country and throughout Africa."
Mwanawase whose political career started in 1985 when he was appointed Solicitor General in the Zambian government. He was appointed Vice President of Zambia in 1991. He left office in 1994 announcing gross abuse of office and corruption as his reason. He retired in 1996 but later ran for president in 2001.
He won the 2001 presidential election beating ten other candidates. He sucessfully ran for a second term in 2006. He was one of the first African leaders to critisise Robert Mugabe.
He also criticised the West for its position on doing business with China. "You people in the West redeem yourself before you begin attacking China," Mwanawasa said.
Mwanawasa suffered a mild stroke in 2006. On July 3, 2008 it was reported that Mwanawasa had died, these reports later turnt out to be false. He had been in the French hospital since early July. Rupiah Banda is now the current acting president of Zambia. A presidential by-election will have to be called within 90 days.