Coup plotter mourns ex-Zambian leader

08:57, June 22, 2011      

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A man who attempted to overthrow the government of Zambia's late president Fredrick Chiluba described him as a true democrat and a man of the people, the Zambia Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.

Stephen Lungu, alias Captain Solo, led a group of other soldiers in a coup attempt to overthrow the government of Chiluba in 1997, but the attempt was thwarted by commando soldiers and he was later given a death sentence.

The former soldier said the death of Chiluba was a blow to the nation, saying he was a great leader and unionist who provided leadership and fought for workers' rights as a union leader. "Despite plotting to throw him out of office, when I left prison I requested to meet him and he agreed. We met fours months ago and he assured me that he had forgiven me and I could visit him if I so wished," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

He said the late president contributed a lot during Zambia's transition from one party state to multi-party politics and that he upheld democracy, which included freedom of assembly and expression.

The coup leader was early this year pardoned by Zambian President Rupiah Banda and released from jail.

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