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Zambian President Sata's Death Sparks Succession Questions

Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 06:36 AM

(Updates with information minister’s comments in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Zambian President Michael Sata’s death in a London hospital yesterday has sparked a search for his replacement as head of Africa’s second-biggest copper- producing nation.

Vice President Guy Scott should become acting leader, according to the nation’s constitution, while elections must be held in 90 days. Scott, whose parents were born in Scotland, doesn’t meet criteria to be a candidate in that vote. When Sata, 77, left Zambia for medical treatment in London on Oct. 19, he named Defense Minister Edgar Lungu acting president.

“There is a bit of a fight in the Patriotic Front to see who’s going to be the candidate and there’s been a lot of jockeying and positioning,” Gary van Staden, a political analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC Independent Economists, said by phone. “That’s all a bit open at the moment.”

The cabinet is meeting today and will “shortly” announce who will take over as acting president, Information Minister Joseph Katema said by mobile phone from Lusaka, the capital.

The most probable outcome of the meeting will be Lungu transfering power to Scott, making him “the most influential kingmaker” as the party selects a new leader, Robert Besseling, a London-based analyst with IHS Country Risk, said today in an e-mailed note.

Potential Candidates

Among the potential candidates to seek the ruling party’s nomination for president are Lungu, who Sata appointed as party secretary-general, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda or Wynter Kabimba, former Patriotic Front secretary-general and ex- justice minister.

The kwacha weakened 0.7 percent to 6.4050 per dollar by 11:52 a.m. in Lusaka. Yields on Eurobonds due April 2024 rose three basis points to 6.52 percent, the first increase in six days.

“We expect we will get confirmation of any acting president shortly, while Zambia enters a period of mourning,” Razia Khan, head of Africa economic research at Standard Chartered Plc in London, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Hill in Lusaka at mhill58@bloomberg.net; Rene Vollgraaff in Johannesburg at rvollgraaff@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net Emily Bowers, Karl Maier, Paul Richardson

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