No third term for Chiluba.

Author:Bongololo, Roger
Position:Around Africa - Zambia - President Frederick Chiluba resigns - Brief Article

President Frederick Chiluba has finally bowed to pressure and announced he is stepping down at the end of his second five-year term, after a failed attempt to change the constitution to allow him to seek a third-term in office.

The announcement ended speculation that he would seek another term after amending the constitution, which limits the presidential tenure to two, five-year terms.

Announcing the decision in a TV broadcast to the nation in mid-May, Chiluba said: "Ten years ago, when you people of Zambia opted for a popular government, I promised that I would serve faithfully and that when I had served my two terms, I would leave office.

"That has always been my position and that is the only statement that I have made. I have said nothing to repudiate that or contradict my earlier pronouncements. I still stand by my word. I will leave office at the end of my term."

Though the president himself had not officially said a word about a third-term, events of the past two years dearly pointed to his determination to change both his party's and the national constitutions to make him go for a third term.

As it became clear that he was determined to change the constitutions, the church, legal fraternity, opposition parties and ordinary Zambians opposed to the third-term, intensified their efforts to stop him.

From what initially appeared to be a lone voice of a civil servant from Solwezi district, "sponsored" calls for Chiluba to run for a third-term suddenly intensified.

"If you stop the debate, you are not a democrat. Let the people talk. My duty is to listen. People must be allowed to debate freely without any fear and the majority will win," Chiluba himself had said about the raging debate.

Yet the debate was not free as those opposed to the third-term were harassed by pro-third term supporters.

Chiluba's own cabinet was split as some members, including the vice president, Lt-Gen Christon Tembo, and the ruling MMD party's vice president, Brig-Gen Godfrey Miyanda (who was also education minister), publicly attacked the president's intention to seek a third term.

But the crunch came...

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