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Zambian newly-elected president highlights economic development
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09:14, November 03, 2008

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Rupiah Banda was sworn in here Sunday as Zambian president after he won a close victory in by-election held three days ago.

The new president vowed to enrich the nation with Zambia's copper reserve and achieve economy prosperity for all Zambians.

"My priority will be to fight poverty," Banda said in his inauguration speech," I don't want people to think of Zambia as a third world country with a begging bowl."

Hailing the late president Levy Mwanawasa as a democratic champion and a fighter against corruption, Banda said he will takeover Mwanawasa 's legacy with mammoth anti-corruption campaigns.

"We are tackling corruption head-on and will continue to do so," said the 71-year-old, "We must because corruption saps investor confidence."

Banda's predecessor had been lauded worldwide for adopting a prudent economic policy, making efforts to promote agricultural production and encourage foreign investment.

Banda also said he will maintain Zambia's hospitality to foreign investors, adding he wants to make Zambia a regional hub for investment.

"We will continue to welcome foreign investments," he said, adding more jobs could be created as investment swarms in.

Banda promised to tackle power deficit and HIV/AIDS epidemic with Zambia's growing government funds.

As Africa's largest copper producer, Zambia becomes one of fastest growing economies on the continent thanks to the soaring mineral prices in the past decade.

The growth rate stood at 5 percent annually since 2001, when Mwanawasa started his first term. Inflation declined to a single-digit figure in 2006, the first time in three decades.

Beside economic issues, Banda called for national unity since citizens were greatly divided during pre-elections campaigns.

"It does not matter which party you voted for, at the end of the day we are all Zambians," Banda said.

"It is time we all unite and work for a better future," he said.

Banda offered friendship to his political rivals and asked opposition leaders to work with him.

"We must put aside petty squabbles and do what is right for the Zambian people," he said.

Banda was deputy to Mwanawasa and was acting president during the vacancy of the presidency as a result of Mwanawasa's death in France in August after a stroke.

Banda took part in the polls on behalf of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy.

The presidential term is five years in Zambia. The winner in the by-election will wrap up the tenure left by Mwanawasa which is expected to end by 2011.


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