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Zambia declares mourning after death of former president

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (AP) – Zambia has declared seven days of national mourning following the death of the country’s fourth president, Rupiah Banda, at the age of 85.

Banda, who was president from 2008 until 2011, died after a long battle with colon cancer, his son Andrew Banda has confirmed.

President Hakainde Hichilema declared the period of national mourning and said that Banda’s state funeral will be held tomorrow and he will be buried on Friday at the presidential burial site at Embassy Park. Hichilema had visited Banda a day before his death on Friday last week.

Banda became president following the death of his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa who had earlier brought him out of political retirement to become vice president.

Banda’s political activism began when he was a youth and was involved in demonstrations calling for Zambia’s independence from Britain, which was achieved in 1964. He later served as a diplomat and a soccer administrator.

Banda was known for a warm personality that helped him to lead the nation when Zambia needed a unifier upon the unexpected death of Mwanawasa.

Former Zambian president Rupiah Banda. PHOTO: AP