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Zambia says ex-President Kaunda ill with pneumonia

Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda   -  
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Zambia's former president, Kenneth Kaunda, 97, has been hospitalized with "pneumonia but he does not have Covid" and his health is improving, his aide said Tuesday.

Kaunda, the father of Zambia's independence who led the country for 27 years, was admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Center, a military hospital in Lusaka, on Monday.

"He is being treated for pneumonia but he does not have Covid," his aide Rodrick Ngolo told AFP, denying rumors to that effect.

"The problem of pneumonia comes up regularly (in the ex-president) and every time you hear that he is in hospital, it is because of pneumonia," said Ngolo, adding that the health of the ex-president had "improved" since Monday.

Nicknamed the "African Gandhi" for his non-violent activism, Kaunda led the former British protectorate Northern Rhodesia to bloodless independence in October 1964.

A socialist, he ruled the country for 27 years, largely under a one-party regime, whose mismanagement led to a severe economic and social crisis. After violent riots, he accepted free elections in 1991 and was defeated.

While in power, it hosted many movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries in the region, including the African National Congress (ANC) party of South Africa.

Also known as "KK," he was the leader of the main nationalist party, the center-left UNIP. He also became an AIDS activist when he publicly announced that one of his sons had died of the disease.