23 November 2001

ZAMBIA: Tembo and Mwanawasa in front for presidency

Former vice-presidents Christon Tembo and Levy Mwanawasa have emerged as frontrunners to succeed Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, who retires at the end of his final term next month, analysts said on Friday.

While the December election will be the most open contest in Zambia for nearly four decades, the top two candidates are Chiluba's chosen successor and his former number two: Mwanawasa, hand-picked candidate of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party, and Tembo, leader of Zambia's newest and strongest opposition party, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), stood head and shoulders above their closest rivals, analysts said. Their competitors were Godfrey Miyanda, another former vice president, and businessmen Anderson Mazoka and Ben Mwila.

Mwanawasa, a 53-year-old prominent lawyer, held the office of Chiluba's first vice president. The tough-talking Tembo, 57, a British-trained infantry commander was also vice president, between 1997 and April this year. Tembo previously served as Zambia's Armed Forces commander, ambassador to Germany and foreign affairs minister.

Chiluba dissolved parliament on Thursday, Nov 22, and set December 27 as the date for polls. He will retire at the end of his second and final five-year term as president, after a controversial bid to extend his rule failed in April. The elections for president, parliament and civic posts are the third since Chiluba ended founding president Kenneth Kaunda's one-party rule in 1991. Tembo led a stunning cabinet revolt in April against Chiluba's efforts to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limit of two five-year terms. The 58-year-old Chiluba capitulated, but sacked Tembo and a dozen cabinet ministers who had refused to back the president. Tembo formed the opposition FDD, which is poised to give the MMD a stiff challenge at the polls. (The Namibian)

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