Zambian president rushed to hospital in Egypt

Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa was rushed to hospital in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday after a health emergency, Egyptian health sources and state media said.

Mwanawasa (59) in Egypt to attend the African Union summit, had experienced sharp chest pains but was in a stable condition, said Saeed Eissa, ambulance director for the southern Sinai peninsula.

Another Egyptian health source said Mwanawasa appeared to have suffered a heart problem and a third mentioned high blood pressure. Egypt’s state news agency Mena said that Mwanawasa had a “sudden health problem”.

The African summit, due to begin on Monday, is expected to focus largely on the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe was sworn in on Sunday for a new term after a one-candidate election on Friday which observers said was scarred by violence and intimidation.

Mwanawasa, the current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community, expressed understanding for Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai when he pulled out of the presidential poll a week ago.

“Elections held in such an environment will not only be undemocratic but will also bring embarrassment to the SADC region and the entire continent of Africa,” the Zambian leader said then.

Mena reported that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was monitoring Mwanawasa’s treatment in Sharm el-Sheikh, and that President Hosni Mubarak had visited him in hospital.

Mwanawasa was expected to be flown to Cairo, where better medical care is available, overnight or on Monday, Egyptian health sources said.

Mena said Mwanawasa had fallen ill during a session of the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), aimed at reducing poverty and promoting good governance.

Mwanawasa has become a favourite of the International Monetary Fund and other Western donors, who have extended billions of dollars in debt relief in the wake of his crackdown on government spending and launch of an anti-graft drive.

He became Zambia’s vice-president in 1991 after Frederick Chiluba ousted founding President Kenneth Kaunda in landmark multiparty elections.
Mwanawasa won the presidency in 2001. - Reuters

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