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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Profile: Zambia's 'Mr Lucky'
French leader Napoleon famously said that the most important thing he looked for in a general was luck.

President Levy Mwanawasa
Levy Mwanawasa's speech is slurred since a horrific car crash
Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa would certainly pass Napoleon's test after once again winning disputed elections with a narrow victory.

His margin of victory has increased, gaining 43% of the vote against just 28% in 2001 but once more, the opposition has alleged fraud and the capital, Lusaka, has witnessed violent clashes.

Despite having such a weak mandate in 2001, Mr Mwanawasa was fortunate to benefit from a huge rise in the price of copper - Zambia's major export.

Then last year, Zambia was one of the prime beneficiaries of the decision by the world's richest nations, the G8, to forgive the debts of poor countries.

These two boosts to national finances have helped him to roll out free primary education and health clinics in rural areas.

The president's supporters argue that he has earned his luck - Zambia's debts were only forgiven because of his sound economic policies and his fight against corruption, they argue.

And this was why he increased his share of the vote.


While the international community applaud the president, his local critics accuse him of persecuting his political rivals, using the fig-leaf of corruption.

Even the man who selected him to lead the ruling party, ex-President Frederick Chiluba has not been spared, leading to deep splits in the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.

Supporters of President Levy Mwanawasa
The president's supporters say he has earned his good fortune
Critics also say the benefits of the financial windfalls have not reached ordinary people. Some 70% of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

But Mr Mwanawasa, a burly-looking Lusaka lawyer and committed Christian, can point to his reputation for integrity, which he has built up over many years.

Many people who have worked with him like George Kunda, the former chairman of the lawyers association, say he does not tolerate injustice in any form.

In 1994, he resigned as vice-president, saying his integrity had been "put in doubt", following a row with minister without portfolio and cabinet enforcer Michael Sata.

Their rivalry was then resumed in the 2006 elections, as Mr Sata was Mr Mwanawasa's main challenger.

Car crash

One of the main questions about Mr Mwanawasa is his health.

In 1992, he was involved in a near fatal road accident and was hospitalised in South Africa for almost a year.

Ever since, his health has not been very good and his speech is slurred.

Earlier this year, he suffered a stroke but still maintains he is fit enough to run the country.

Although Mr Mwanawasa belongs to a small ethnic group called the Lenje, in central Zambia, he was born and brought up in the Copperbelt province.

In 1970, he entered the law school at the University of Zambia, from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1973.

He has been practising as a lawyer ever since.


He has had numerous professional distinctions, among them becoming the first Zambian lawyer to be appointed advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

In Zambia, he is famous for taking up cases that few lawyers would even contemplate. But the one case that pushed him into prominence was a treason case in 1989.

He had to defend former vice president Lt Gen Christon Tembo and others who were charged with plotting to overthrow the government of the then President Kenneth Kaunda.

At 58, Mr Mwanawasa is married to a fellow lawyer Maureen with whom he has five children.

As befits his reputation for probity, he is said to be a man of modest habits.


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