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Nov. 3 (GIN) – Former president of Zambia, Michael Chilufya Sata, who passed away in a London hospital, will lie in state for just over a week before being laid to rest on Nov. 11, the government announced.

No information was given as to his illness.

Born in 1937 and brought up in Mpika, Northern Province, the president-to- be worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial rule.

Following independence, he worked his way up through the rank-and-file of the ruling United National Independence Party to the governorship of Lusaka in 1985.

Sata ran for president in four times until  2011 when he defeated Rupiah Banda.  At his inauguration, Sata, once known as “King Cobra” for his sharp tongue, assured foreign investors that they are welcome in his country, Africa's biggest copper producer, but said they must improve conditions for their Zambian employees.

He graduated as a Bachelor in Political Science at Atlantic International University on 2011.

The  interim president, Guy Scott, is a white man, born in Zambia when it was still a British colony. The issue of skin color drew great interest from western media but less in Zambia.

Interviewed on the street, Zambians had mixed opinions about having Africa's first white head of state in 20 years.

"Mr. Guy Scott is qualified to do that job because they wouldn't have chosen him to become vice president if he was not qualified to do that,” said Nosizi Ndhlovu.

But Robin Mulyako countered: "It’s not right, 50 years after independence I think we are supposed to have our own indigenous person acting in that position.”

The 70-year-old Scott, a Cambridge-educated economist, is ineligible to run for president in the upcoming elections because his parents were not born in Zambia. w/pix of M. Sata

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