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Michael Sata (pictured), the president of Zambia has passed away on Tuesday from an undisclosed illness, he was 77-years-old, according to CNN.

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Sata was in London at King Edward III hospital reportedly being treated for his illness. The head of state had reportedly left Zambia for medical treatment last week accompanied by his wife and family members. Whispers about Sata being “deathly ill” had been circulating ever since he dropped out of public view some months ago.  The country’s opposition groups had begun to question whether Sata was even fit to continue to lead his country of 15 million, Africa’s biggest copper producer and a land where poverty reigns supreme.

Oftentimes referred to as “Mr. King Cobra” for his sharp-tongued comments, Sata, a longtime opposition leader  became president of Zambia in 2011.  Sata was said to have had a mixed relationship with Chinese investors in his country, oftentimes criticizing them as exploitative.  He had also come to be known as someone who was a no-nonsense man of action by his supporters as evidenced by a heated exchange, where he once publicly reprimanded his entire cabinet, threatening to collapse his own government if they did not do a better job.

Critics summed up the former policeman, London railway porter, trade unionist, and taxidermist as an authoritarian populist.

Meanwhile, Vice President Guy Scott will assume the role as leader of the Republic of Zambia, until another candidate can be elected, which according to Zambian law, will be held within 90 days of the President’s death.

 

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