Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Levy Mwanawasa, 1948-2008. R.I.P.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa died today in Paris due to complications from a stroke he sustained on June 29th on the eve of an African Union summit in Egypt. He would have been 60 on September 3rd.

Mwanawasa had been President since 2002. In recent months, he had become noted as a staunch critic of Zimbabwe's President for Life Robert Mugabe and was the first African head of state to publicly criticize Mugabe.

Rupiah Banda, who has served as Acting President since Mwanawasa fell ill, will remain in that role.

Zambia, like Zimbabwe, is very poor and is coping with the HIV/AIDS virus. However, unlike Zimbabwe, Zambia has been practicing multi-party democracy since 1990 and transparency has improved albeit slowly. While Mwanawasa had his authoritarian impulses, he was by and large a fairly competent head of state who was gearing Zambia in the right direction.

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