Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa, a stern critic of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, died in a Paris hospital today after suffering a stroke earlier this week.
A Zambian high commission spokesman said the 59-year-old died in the early hours of the morning after being rushed to hospital in Egypt on Sunday ahead of the African Union Summit earlier this week. He had complained of sharp chest pains.
He was transferred to Paris and placed in intensive care.
Mwanawasa had taken a tough line against Mugabe’s regime, which has plunged Zimbabwe into a political and economic crisis.
He had been expected to take a firm stance against Zimbabwe’s disputed election at the AU summit where he would have been sat next to Mugabe thanks to the alphabetically-arranged seating.
The Zambian president, who was also the current chairman of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), was sympathetic to the plight of Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, when he was forced to withdraw from the presidential election because of political violence against his supporters.
At the time, Mwanawasa said: “Elections held in such an environment will not only be undemocratic but will also bring embarrassment to the Sadc region and the entire continent of Africa.”
He had described the economic situation in Zimbabwe as “a sinking Titanic”.