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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK

World: Africa

Kaunda to challenge citizenship ruling

Mr Kaunda's supporters during a court hearing last year

Supporters of Kenneth Kaunda - the man who led Zambia for nearly three decades - say they are confident of overturning a court ruling declaring him stateless.

The BBC's Tom Metcalfe: "The judge declared him a stateless person"
The ruling on Wednesday by a Lusaka court stripped Mr Kaunda of his Zambian citizenship, and ruled that he had governed Zambia illegally during his two terms as president.

The decision was criticised by the former president's lawyers.

"I find it amazing that the judge has not cited any cases either in Zambia or other countries. This judgement was written without any supporting authority," said Julius Sakala, a member of Mr Kaunda's legal team.

Mr Kaunda's supporters have dismissed the ruling as another attempt to harass him.

Appeal to be launched

BBC Correspondent Greg Barrow reports on reaction to the ruling
The court decided that he had never renounced his original Malawian nationality.

Mr Kaunda was born in Zambia to Malawian parents.

His lawyers have lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court to have the judgement overturned.

They are expected to cite an earlier court ruling that anyone residing in the former British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia in1964 is entitled to Zambian citizenship.

Party support

Kenneth Kaunda's opposition United National Independence Party (UNIP) says there is a clear political agenda behind the court's ruling.

[ image: Frederick Chiluba: Took over from Kaunda in 1991]
Frederick Chiluba: Took over from Kaunda in 1991
Mr Kaunda ruled Zambia in autocratic style from independence in 1964 until he lost power to Frederick Chiluba in the country's first democratic elections in 1991.

Mr Chiluba's ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy changed the constitution to prevent Mr Kaunda contesting the 1996 elections.

Last year, Mr Kaunda was freed from jail after charges relating to his alleged involvement in a coup attempt were dropped.

The decision not to press charges followed sustained pressure from international human rights bodies and opposition groups within Zambia.

Mr Kaunda later announced his intention to retire from active politics.

However, his supporters say they believe the Zambian Government will continue to put pressure on Mr Kaunda until he leaves the country, thus removing their foremost political opponent.

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