Zambia loses its founding president Kenneth Kaunda, age 97

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Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, has died at the age of 97.

The former president’s death at military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, where he was being treated for pneumonia.

“I am sad to inform [members] we have lost Mzee [the old man]. Let’s pray for him,” Kaunda’s son Kambarage said on the late president’s Facebook page on Thursday.

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Edgar Lungu, the country’s president in a facebook post, said the country was mourning “a true African icon”.

“I learnt of your passing this afternoon with great sadness,” he wrote.

“On behalf of the entire nation and on my own behalf I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our first president and true African icon.”

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Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years — starting from 1964 after the country gained independence from Britain.

However, steppedown after losing to Frederick Chiluba in 1991. In 2000, he resigned as leader of his United National Independence Party (UNIP).

He was a strong supporter of efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

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