Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Zambian Becomes First White African Leader in 20 Years

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Zambian Becomes First White African Leader in 20 Years

Article excerpt

LUSAKA, Zambia -- Zambia's Guy Scott became Africa's first white head of state in 20 years Wednesday after the president, "King Cobra" Michael Sata, died in a London hospital at age 77.

Mr. Scott, a Cambridge-educated economist born in Zambia to Scottish parents, had been Mr. Sata's vice president. He will be interim leader until an election in three months, making him the first white African leader since South Africa's F.W. de Klerk lost to Nelson Mandela in the 1994 election that ended apartheid.

Mr. Scott, 70, is ineligible to run in a presidential election because his parents were not born in Zambia, leaving Defense Minister Edgar Lungu and Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda the most likely contenders for the ruling Patriotic Front party's ticket, analysts say.

"Elections for the office of president will take place within 90 days. In the interim, I am acting president," Mr. Scott said in a brief televised address. "The period of national mourning will start today. We will miss our beloved president and comrade."

Many Zambians welcomed his interim appointment. Mr. Scott is a lively character who has caused diplomatic controversy in the past, describing South Africans as "backward" in an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper last year. "I like a lot of South Africans, but they really think they're the bees' knees, and actually they've been the cause of so much trouble in this part of the world," he said.

"He is a black man in a white man's skin," said Nathan Phiri, a bus driver. "The very fact we accepted him as vice president shows that we consider him as one of us."

Mr. Sata, who was nicknamed "King Cobra" because of his sharp tongue, died Tuesday, the government said earlier. He had been president of Zambia, Africa's second-largest copper producer, since 2011. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, but Mr. …

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