World Bulletin/News Desk
Zambian Defense Minister Edger Lungu claimed Friday that he had been forced to cede presidential power to Vice-President Guy Scot following late president Michael Sata's death last month.
Lungu, who is also secretary-general of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), made the assertion at a session of the country's High Court, where Scot's appointment as acting president is being challenged.
The defense minister, who had served as acting president when Sata traveled to London for a medical check-up, said he had convened a cabinet meeting on October 29 at State House – in his capacity as acting president – hours after Sata's death.
The meeting, he said, had been attended by all cabinet ministers except Scot, who for some reason had failed to show up.
"In the middle of the meeting, Dr. Scot, accompanied by the Attorney-General of Zambia Musa Mwenye, along with Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Roland Msiska, rudely interrupted the meeting, at which point I was advised to stop the meeting claiming it was illegal," Lungu said.
Lungu added that Mwenye had said his mandate as acting president had expired upon Sata's death.
"The attorney-general further advised me to stop chairing the meeting because it was supposed to be chaired by the vice-president. When I resisted, he issued a threat, saying I risked being charged with treason if I insisted on holding on to power," he added.
"It was after this threat that I surrendered power to the vice-president, who immediately assumed the role of acting president," he asserted.
Lungu argued that the moves by the attorney-general and secretary to the cabinet forcing him to cede power to Scot had been illegal. He urged the court to order that executive power, which had been delegated to him by late president Sata, be restored to him.
Following Sata's death, Mwenye defended the Zambian cabinet's decision to name Scot, a white Zambian of British descent, as acting president, saying the move was in accordance with Article 38(2) of the constitution, which states that only the vice-president can assume the position upon the death of a sitting president.
Mwenye had asserted that, even though Lungu had been acting president at the time of Sata's death, there were no provisions in the national charter that allowed him to carry on as acting president.Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2014, 12:55