Rivals question Zambian president's whereabouts
07 August 2013, 18:32
Lusaka - Zambia's opposition demanded details about President Michael Sata's whereabouts Wednesday, amid rumours he is in London receiving medical treatment.
Sata, 76, last week temporarily handed power to his finance minister, Alexander Chikwanda, before embarking on a trip to London.
"We have an absentee leader," said Cornelius Mweetwa, of the United Party for National Development. "We are on autopilot as a country."
But the government has denied suggestions he is there to receive treatment, with Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba on Monday saying it is a private visit.
"He left for London for a private visit and there is no need to speculate because senior government officials were at the airport to see him off," said Kabimba, according to local media.
He added that Sata would be back soon.
Zambia is a conservative nation, and the health of the president is not openly discussed, particularly by government officials.
Little was said about the wellbeing of president Levy Mwanawasa before he died in office in 1998.
Sata's term expires in 2016, and some leaders in his party have been urging him to consider running for re-election despite his advanced age.