Pres­i­dent Kaunda takes power in Zam­bia

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Zam­bia has be­come the ninth African state to gain in­de­pen­dence from the Bri­tish crown.

The for­mer colony of North­ern Rhode­sia - part of the Fed­er­a­tion of Rhode­sia and Nyasa­land since 1953 - cel­e­brated with a cer­e­mony at the In­de­pen­dence Sta­dium in the cap­i­tal, Lusaka, as a huge cop­per torch was lit on a hill over­look­ing the city.

The new pres­i­dent of the coun­try, Ken­neth Kaunda, was given the In­stru­ments of In­de­pen­dence by the Queen's rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the Princess Royal.

Thou­sands of peo­ple shouted "Kwatcha" - mean­ing the Dawn - as they watched the red, black, green and or­ange colours of the Zam­bian Repub­lic's flag re­place the Bri­tish Union Jack to mark the of­fi­cial changeover at mid­night.

Princess Mary read a per­sonal mes­sage the Queen as the UK wel­comed the new­est mem­ber of its Com­mon­wealth.

Kaunda's vi­sion

Pres­i­dent Kaunda - the only can­di­date in the Au­gust elec­tions - has given his first news con­fer­ence since tak­ing of­fice.

He spoke of the new repub­lic's "task of build­ing a na­tion founded on re­spect for all peo­ple of all races, all colours and all re­li­gions".

And he told jour­nal­ists Zam­bia would sup­port Bri­tain if neigh­bour­ing Rhode­sia for­merly South­ern Rhode­sia - made a uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence.

"That dec­la­ra­tion would meet re­sis­tance from all over the world and would not last," he said.

The son of a Church of Scot­land min­is­ter, Dr Kaunda, 40, has a rep­u­ta­tion as a mod­er­ate and rea­son­able man, op­posed to vi­o­lence.

He sup­ports the preser­va­tion of 10 of the 73 seats in par­lia­ment for the Euro­peans, for at least the next four years.

He hopes this will re­as­sure the com­mu­nity of 70,000 Euro­peans in Zam­bia, most of whom work in the Cop­per Belt near the bor­der with Congo and are of great eco­nomic im­por­tance to the coun­try.

Many have al­ready left for South Africa fear­ing in­creased African re­sent­ment against them.

One of Dr Kaunda's first acts as head of state was to re­lease 200 "free­dom fight­ers" jailed for sedi­tion by the colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He has also sent let­ters to the South African Prime Min­is­ter ask­ing for African lead­ers, in­clud­ing Nel­son Man­dela, to be im­pris­oned in Zam­bia rather than their home­land.

Lusaka is cur­rently home to the head­quar­ters of 15 African free­dom move­ments, in­clud­ing Zanu and Zapu from Rhode­sia.

Af­ter tak­ing power Dr Kaunda par­tially na­tion­alised the min­ing in­dus­try - the back­bone of the coun­try's in­ter­na­tional econ­omy.

In 1972 he was suf­fi­ciently pow­er­ful to out­law all op­po­si­tion to the rul­ing United Na­tional In­de­pen­dence Party (UNIP) to cre­ate a one-party state the fol­low­ing year.

He was a keen sup­porter of the an­ti­a­partheid move­ment and op­posed Ian Smith's white mi­nor­ity rule in Rhode­sia, caus­ing eco­nomic prob­lems for Zam­bia since the coun­tries af­fected were their main trad­ing part­ners.

Grow­ing po­lit­i­cal un­rest prompted Pres­i­dent Kaunda to lift the ban on po­lit­i­cal par­ties in 1990.

He lost the multi-party elec­tions in 1991 to Fred­er­ick Chiluba and the Move­ment for Mul­ti­party Democ­racy (MMD).

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