Candidates file applications to replace Zambia’s late president Mwanawasa

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Zambia’s acting President Rupiah Banda and Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande have openly shown interest in standing for president come election time in November.

Two other candidates have also expressed interest in contesting the vote after the death earlier this month of Levy Mwanawasa.

Mwanawasa was a favourite of donor countries for tackling corruption and turning the southern African nation into one of the continent’s economic success stories.

He had led Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, since 2001, winning re-election in 2006.

Vice President Banda is acting president until new elections are called.

The presidential term is five years, but the next president will complete the remainder of Mwanawasa’s term before seeking re-election for another five years in 2011.

Banda was due to file his application later on Tuesday, reports say. Zambia’s Post newspaper reported that Magande had already submitted his on Monday.

It is also reported that officials accused of corruption would be barred from contesting presidential elections, it is said.

Defence Minister George Mpombo, said on Sunday the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy had started the nomination process for candidates wanting to contest the presidential vote on behalf of the MMD.

Mpombo, who is also on the ruling party’s top decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, confirmed reports carried by state media that nominations had started and would close on Tuesday.

Mwanawasa died in a French military hospital on August 19.

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