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Michael Sata, Zambia's President Dubbed 'King Cobra,' Dies at 77

 / Updated  / Source: Reuters
Image: Zambian President Michael Sata on September 10
Zambian President Michael Sata gestures upon arrival at Solwezi airport on September 10.AFP - Getty Images, file

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LUSAKA, Zambia — Zambian President Michael Sata, an abrasive figure nicknamed "King Cobra" because of his venomous tongue, has died aged 77, the government announced Wednesday. Sata, who became president of the southern African nation in 2011, had been ill and receiving medical treatment in London. "President Sata's demise is deeply regretted," Cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said on state television. Vice President Guy Scott was later named Zambia's interim leader. Scott is Africa's first white head of state since South Africa's F.W. de Klerk in 1994. The country's constitution says an election must be held within 90 days.

Sata's varied resume included stints as a police officer, car assembly worker, trade unionist and platform sweeper at London's Victoria station. Concern over Sata's health had been mounting since June when he disappeared from the public eye. He missed a scheduled speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September amid reports that he had fallen ill in his New York hotel. A few days before that, he had attended the opening of parliament in Lusaka, joking: "I am not dead."

Image: Zambian President Michael Sata on September 10
Zambian President Michael Sata gestures upon arrival at Solwezi airport on September 10.AFP - Getty Images, file
- Reuters

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