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» 22.01.2010 - $20 million loan to support smallholder agribusiness in Zambia
» 19.01.2010 - Banda to help Rwanda arrest genocide suspects
» 15.12.2009 - Zambia approved for further poverty reduction funding
» 10.12.2009 - Zambia to tighten anti-craft laws
» 02.12.2009 - Zambia and Zimbabwe to launch One Stop Border Post
» 15.10.2009 - Zambia becomes agric support hub for Southern Africa
» 31.08.2009 - Not yet over for Chiluba
» 31.08.2009 - UN expert urges Zambia to keep poverty reduction promises

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Politics | Society

Banda takes over as Zambian president

afrol News, 21 August - Zambian vice president Rupiah Banda has vowed to call early elections after taking over as head of state, officials said. Mr Banda takes over following death of president Levy Mwanawasa at a French military hospital on Tuesday having suffered a stroke in June.

Under Zambia's constitution, an election must be called within 90 days of the presidential office becoming vacant. The presidential term is five years.

Attorney-General Mumba Malila said government would set out Mr Banda's role and powers as acting president.

As Zambia is poised for an early presidential poll amidst national mourning, political analysts say it may be too early to speculate as to who might take over the presidency. "There is no known front-runner at the moment," said Neo Simutanyi, a political science lecturer at University of Zambia, saying prior to Mr Mwanawasa's death, ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) had announced that 19 senior members of the party had shown interest in succeeding Mr Mwanawasa.

The political scientist also added that if two main opposition parties, Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) could agree on a joint candidate, they would stand a better chance to winning the presidency seat.

"Everything now depends on how government and ruling party manages transition period of 90 days," said Lee Habasonda, executive director of the Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD).

He said leaders of ruling MMD, will first have to overcome internal divisions that wrecked the party even before Mwanawasa's death.

There is also a question mark over ability of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to hold presidential elections within 90 days, due to budget constrains, with some observers having expressed concerns on old voters' register, featuring voters who have died or lost their cards, saying it may not be up to the job and will thus reduce the number of legal ballots.

Some political players have even considered amending the constitution to delay election, prolonging the transition period, but so far there has been no concrete proposal along these lines.

Veteran politician and diplomat Mr Banda, 71, who was appointed Mr Mwanawasa's deputy in 2006 is widely seen inside his party as an outsider who was plucked from political obscurity by Mr Mwanawasa after MMD suspended elections for the post of vice president at its 2006 congress.

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