Zambian First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa has ordered opposition Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata to leave late President Levy Mwanawasa's funeral proceedings at Chipata Airport in Eastern province, accusing him of politicizing the mourning, Times of Zambia reported Tuesday.
The First Lady who had accompanied the body of the late president on Monday told Sata to leave the funeral proceedings because he had only reconciled with Mwanawasa and not with the members of the family.
"Just go, please then I will respect you. You should not politicize Mwanawasa's funeral, you only reconciled with President Mwanawasa and not with the family," she told the PF leader after he greeted her shortly after disembarking from the plane.
National chairperson of the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) Micheal Mabenga and Science and Technology Minister Peter Daka led Sata away from the VIP tent where senior government officials and mourners had sat.
Sata who arrived in Chipata much earlier aboard a private chartered plane said he had gone to mourn President Mwanawasa whom he described as his good friend.
The PF leader pleaded with Mabenga who called security officers, saying that he would leave immediately after the late Mwanawasa was given a presidential salute by the Zambia Army.
But some security officers pulled him away from the arena where the funeral proceedings were being held and led him to his chartered plane which took off later.
The PF leader was not even accorded the chance to be present during body viewing.
In an interview after being chased from the funeral, Sata, 70, who was accompanied by party spokesperson Given Lubinda said he had achieved what he had traveled to Chipata for.
The PF leader denied politicizing the funeral of the late president but that he only wanted to mourn him in a good manner.
"I have not come here for campaigns, but to mourn my closest friend," he said.
Sata said he had wanted to escort the body of Mwanawasa to all the nine provinces as a way of mourning his colleague.
Sata said he did not need to reconcile with the first lady or any government official because he had already reconciled with President Mwanawasa when he was still alive.
He said he could not get permission from the first lady because she was still mourning.