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The BBC's Ishbel Matheson
"Mr Chibula.. has lost a good deal of creditibility over this"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Chiluba: 'I won't stand again'
Lusaka demonstration on 21 April
MMD supporters have been split by Chiluba's moves for a third term
In a surprise announcement, President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia has said he will not seek a third term in office.

I will leave office at the end of my term. Let's take national interests in consideration

President Chiluba
He was speaking four days after an acrimonious meeting of his governing Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) voted to nominate him for a third term.

The move was bitterly opposed by many in the party, as it contravenes the constitution, which bars presidents from serving for more than two terms.

The prospect of a third term for Mr Chiluba had alarmed many within Zambia and the international community.

Cabinet dissolved

"I will leave office at the end of my term. Let's take national interests in consideration. This is in the best interest of the nation," Mr Chiluba said in a television address to the nation.

Frederick Chiluba
Chiluba says he will stay on as party president
He said when he was elected he had promised to serve faithfully and that he had always said when he had served his two terms he would leave office.

"I still stand by my words", he said.

He also announced that he was dissolving his cabinet immediately, because it was "imperative" that discipline be restored to government.

But he said that after next October's elections, he would remain as president of the MMD to concentrate on party affairs.

However, he left open the possibility of holding a referendum on amending the constitution to allow presidents to run for a third term.

Impeachment moves

Mr Chiluba's comes the day after two members of the MMD filed a motion to impeach him for alleged misconduct. The move was supported by more than a third of the parliament's legislators.

The impeachment move followed Mr Chiluba's expulsion of Vice-President Christon Tembo and eight cabinet ministers on Wednesday from the MMD for not supporting his re-election bid.

The president has engaged in acts of gross misconduct by encouraging and rewarding acts of thuggery, gangsterism, and anarchy

Legislators' motion

MMD party members Ackson Sejani and Mike Mulongoti handed House Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa the motion, signed by more than a third of the 158 legislators, late on Thursday.

"The president has engaged in acts of gross misconduct by encouraging and rewarding acts of thuggery, gangsterism and anarchy," the notice said.

The legislators have given the house Speaker 21 days to respond to the motion.

Mob violence

On Monday the ruling party held a special session where they voted to allow Chiluba to secure a third term. But 300 party members did not attend the conference, citing intimidation and violence by pro-Chiluba youths that left one cabinet minister with a broken arm.

Mr Chiluba's opponents were granted a temporary court injunction on Tuesday preventing their expulsion from the party, and they say they will fight the sackings through the courts.

"We, the leaders who oppose the amendment of the constitution, will employ every legal means to stop the president from going for another term of office," Labour Minister Edith Nawakwi told a news conference.

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | Africa
Chiluba's next moves
21 Apr 01 | Africa
Ministers tell Chiluba: Time's up
17 Aug 00 | Africa
Zambia's stylish president
31 Jul 00 | Africa
Zambia: Eyes on the prize
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Zambia
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