Zambia: Former President Frederick Chiluba Dies

Hailed as a democrat for helping dismantle Kaunda's socialist single-party rule of 27 years, Chiluba dies at 68.

LUSAKA--- Frederick Chiluba, Zambia's first democratically elected president died Saturday as reported by Emmanuel Mwamba, his spokesman during an interview. He met his death at the age of 68. 
Chiluba suffered from a chronic heart problem and had been hospitalized in the past. The cause of death was not immediately clear.

A former trade unionist, Chiluba held his tenure as president from November 1991 to January 2002 taking over office in multi-party elections after 27 years of one-party rule by Kenneth Kaunda.

Hailed as a democrat for helping dismantle Kaunda's socialist single-party rule of 27 years, Chiluba was later charged with stealing nearly $500,000 of public funds.

A legacy he is known to have left is the expansion of civil and political rights in Zambia making the country seen as a model of democracy on a troubled continent. But eventually he slipped into Kaunda's methods of suppressing opposition and he was dogged by corruption allegations into his retirement ending up with charges of stealing nearly $500,000 of public funds.

In his bid to free up copper-rich Zambia's economy, Chiluba slashed import duties and abolished currency controls. He sold state owned enterprises to private buyers, many of them from Europe or South Africa.

But the measures failed to improve the lot of the vast majority of Zambia's 13 million people, who remained mired in abject poverty.

In 2007 a in a London High Court civil case, a British judge ordered Chiluba to repay $58 million to compensate for money he was accused of stealing during his decade in office.

That ruling, heralded as a landmark in Africa's fight against corruption, was made in London, where Zambian officials filed a civil case to try and recover assets owned by Chiluba and his friends in Britain and other European countries.

It was later ruled in a Zambian court that local laws did not allow the enforcement of overseas rulings.

Chiluba since then had maintained the charges against him stemmed from a political persecution.

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