Zambia: Coup plotter apologizes to Chiluba, asks for God’s forgiveness

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The orchestrator of Zambia’s 1997 attempted coup, Captain Stephen Lungu (alias Captain Solo), has met Dr. Frederick Chiluba, the man whose government he wanted to overthrow, and apologized.

Captain Lungu was given a presidential pardon last Wednesday after serving 13 years in jail.

Lungu met former president Chiluba at his residence in Lusaka mid-morning and told him that his actions were foolish, and asked for forgiveness.

“I don’t know how I can describe that act … Mr. President, I am really, really sorry. It is because I didn’t know God,” Captain Lungu, who was clad in a grey suit, confessed to Zambia’s second president.

Captain Lungu said there were other soldiers still serving their sentences and asked Dr. Chiluba to talk to incumbent president Rupiah Banda so they could also be released.

“They had nothing to do about this issue, it was me,” he said. ”It is my prayer and request that those, especially the recruits who still have the energy to serve in the army, can be restored. Let those who have finished their sentences be discharged honorably. Let everything be bound on me, sir. There is nothing I can do but to put all to God, who forgives.”

Captain Lungu, who still looks very energetic, said his future will be determined by God. He recounted that the events of October 27 and 28, 1997, were driven by an evil force which he could not resist. Lungu said the attempted coup was not even adequately planned before it was executed.

Dr. Chiluba, who looked very jovial, described the event as the work of God. The former president said he had unreservedly forgiven Captain Lungu.

“I, in the name of Jesus, do not only welcome you to our home, I forgive you from the very bottom of my heart,” Dr. Chiluba said. At this point Captain Lungu rose from his chair, sat next to Chiluba rising his hands and said, “Glory be to God.”

Spectators clapped.

Dr Chiluba added, “If the Lord has found fit to release you, who are we to still hold you?”

He thanked President Banda for releasing Captain Lungu, a step he describes as promoting unity and reconciliation in Zambia.

Captain Lungu’s death sentence had been commuted to a 20-year prison term by President Mwanawasa, which he was serving at the time of his release. Lungu was due to walk to freedom at the end of February 2011.

He is currently residing with a Lusaka pastor.

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