The body of president Michael Sata is on its way back to Zambian soil, ahead of a state funeral for the 77-year-old leader. Duration: 00:27
Zambia president's remains flown home
Zambia president’s remains flown home
/ Lusaka (Zambia) – 01 November 2014 01:04 – AFP
The body of president Michael Sata will arrive back on Zambian soil Saturday, ahead of a state funeral for the 77-year-old leader.
Sata died on Tuesday while undergoing treatment in London’s private King Edward VII hospital for an unspecified illness.
His remains are expected to arrive at Lusaka airport at 0800 GMT with a Zambia airforce escort.
On the tarmac will be a guard of honour, traditional, religious and civic leaders, as well as a host of cabinet ministers, former presidents and foreign diplomats.
A wreath will be laid by acting president Guy Scott, who has become — pending elections — Africa’s first white head of state since South Africa’s apartheid era.
Sata’s remains will then lie in state at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Centre where Zambians can pay their respects before the funeral.
For months, officials in the southern African nation repeatedly denied that Sata was sick, despite several trips abroad for medical help.
Fresh elections to pick a new president must be held within three months after Sata’s death. Scott is not expected to run.
The public will be allowed to view the body from Sunday until November 9, and parliament will host a thanksgiving ceremony on November 10.
Books of condolences have been opened at government offices in the capital, in the provinces and at Zambian embassies abroad.
On November 11 Sata will be buried at Embassy Park cemetery, near government offices in Lusaka’s Long Acres suburb.
The graveyard is reserved for heads of state and two of Zambia’s former leaders — Frederick Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa — are buried there.