Zambian President Michael Sata, once dubbed “Mr King Cobra” for his sharp-tongued remarks, died in a London hospital after a long illness, the Zambian government said Wednesday.
Vice President Guy Scott, a white Zambian of Scottish descent, was appointed acting president of the southern African nation until elections are held within 90 days.
Scott is the first white leader of an African nation since F.W. de Klerk, the last president of South Africa under apartheid, the white racist regime that ended in 1994.
Scott, a 70-year-old former agriculture minister, has said he has no presidential ambitions, and he cannot in any case become a fully empowered president because his parents were born outside Zambia, according to analysts.
“Dr Scott will act as president of the republic of Zambia until the country goes for a presidential by-election,” said Defense Minister Edgar Lungu, who is also secretary general of the ruling Patriotic Front party.
“The government remains intact and so does the Patriotic Front as a party,” Lungu said. Lungu had served as acting president when Sata traveled to London for medical treatment earlier this month.
Scott was previously agriculture minister and has also worked in Zambia’s finance ministry. Sata died shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday at London’s King Edward VII hospital, where he was being treated, Cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said in a statement.
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