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Zambian President Michael Sata dies at 77

Zambian President Michael Sata, who was nicknamed “King Cobra” for his fiery comebacks and larger-than-life personality, has died. He was 77.

Sata had traveled to London for unspecified medical treatment last week, and died at a hospital there Tuesday evening. Officials did not disclose a cause of death.

“It’s shocking, it’s devastating, because I knew he was sick. But I did not know it was going to end this way,” said George Zulu, permanent secretary at the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “(We) lost a man who devoted his whole life to his country.”

Succession of office

Vice President Guy Scott has been appointed acting president, Roland Msiska, secretary to Zambia’s Cabinet, told CNN Wednesday.

He will serve for 90 days until elections are held for a new president. Scott, who is of Scottish descent, will be the first white head of state in sub-Saharan Africa since apartheid.

He is ineligible to be elected president because his parents were not born in Zambia, Msiska said.

Before Scott, Defense Minister Edgar Lungu was appointed as acting president when Sata left for London.

Absence of leadership

Sata took office in September 2011 after the incumbent Presidenttearfully conceded in a televised speech, a rarity in a continent known for volatile elections and leaders fighting their defeat tooth-and-nail.

Analysts hailed his election as an example of an African nation with a vibrant democracy. But not too long after he took office, speculation swirled over his lack of visibility — which especially stood out for a man who loves the spotlight.

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