World

Zambia denies reports of president's death

Zambia's president is in stable condition in a Paris hospital, the vice-president told Reuters on Thursday in response to local media reports that he had died.

Zambia's president is in stable condition in a Paris hospital, the vice-president told Reuters on Thursday in response to local media reports that he had died.

Levy Mwanawasa, 59, fell ill earlier in the week after suffering from a stroke, according to a statement from the Zambian government. Reuters, citing South Africa's Talk Radio 702, reported early Thursday that Mwanawasa had died, quoting a Zambian High Commission spokesman.

"The president had [a] satisfactory night at the Percy military hospital in France. The news reports ... are not true," Vice-President Rupiah Banda said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Mwanawasa became ill as an African Union summit got underway in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheik after suffering from a stroke.

The summit came under international scrutiny as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe made his first appearance following an election that many have called a sham.

Mwanawasa has been receiving medical care at Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris, a frequent destination for French and foreign dignitaries, a French official said.

He is Zambia's third president since independence from Britain in 1964.

Mwanawasa, a lawyer, has been praised by Zambians, and many Western investors and donors for his free-market policies and a high-profile anti-graft campaign.

His corruption efforts targeted his predecessor and former mentor, Frederick Chiluba.

With files from the Associated Press