(Reuters) - Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa died in a French hospital on Tuesday after suffering a stroke in July, Vice President Rupiah Banda said.
Following are some facts about Mwanawasa.
* Mwanawasa was a favourite of the International Monetary Fund and other Western donors who extended billions of dollars in debt relief in the wake of his crackdown on government spending and launch of a massive anti-graft drive.
* He was one of the region’s strongest critics of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, saying Zimbabwean elections would bring embarrassment to Africa.
* Born on September 3, 1948, Mwanawasa built his reputation as a lawyer for the former opposition, cultivating an earthy image in the process.
* He became vice president in 1991 after Frederick Chiluba ousted founding President Kenneth Kaunda in landmark multiparty elections.
* He stunned observers soon after winning the presidency in late 2001 by turning on Chiluba and then won vocal Western support for launching the biggest anti-corruption drive since Zambia won independence from Britain in 1964.
* He narrowly defeated opposition leader Michael Sata in a presidential election in 2006.
* Despite the debt relief package and major investments from China and India, Mwanawasa battled a growing public perception that his strong fiscal record had done little to benefit most of the 11.5 million people in the copper-rich nation.
* Mwanawasa suffered a minor stroke in April 2006 that prompted him to seek treatment in Britain, but in June 2006 he declared himself fit for office. He suffered a stroke at the African Union summit in Egypt last June.
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