Zambia: what next after Sata?
Zambia’s President Michael Sata passed away at London’s King Edward VII Hospital, where he was being treated for an undisclosed ailment. After a decade in opposition and three previous unsuccessful attempts, Sata and his Patriotic Front (PF) party rose to power in September 2011, defeating incumbent Rupiah Banda of the then governing Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). He becomes the second Zambian leader to die in office within the past six years, following President Levy Mwanawasa’s death in August 2008. This raises a number of important questions: will the PF survive the succession battle? Who will emerge as the country’s next president? What are the chances of an opposition victory?
An acting president who cannot run?
When Sata left the country for treatment, he appointed Edgar Lungu, the Minister of Defence, to act as President in his absence, overlooking, as he had consistently done since assuming office, Vice-President Guy Scott. This was despite the fact that, like on all previous occasions, he had no legal discretion to appoint any other person if the Vice-President was available. However, in the wake of his death, Vice-President Guy Scott assumed power, as per the Constitution, and became the new acting President for an interim period of three months, during which he is expected to preside over a political transition.