Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 18:34 UK

Zambian VP to lead ruling party

Zambia's late President, Levy Mwanawasa. Photo: April 2008
Levy Mwanawasa had been in poor health for several years

Zambia's ruling party has chosen the current Vice-President, Rupiah Banda, as its candidate to succeed President Levy Mwanawasa, who died last month.

Mr Banda, a former foreign minister, will stand as the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) candidate in an election due before December.

He is likely to face a strong challenge from opposition leader Michael Sata, who narrowly lost the election in 2006.

Mr Mwanawasa died in France, having suffered a stroke in June.

Under the constitution, elections must be held within 90 days of the president's death.

The process of choosing a successor to Mr Mwanawasa had created deep divisions in the MMD.

The BBC's Musonda Chibamba says Mr Banda only joined the MMD a few years ago.

He was a member of the United National Independence Party, founded by Zambia's first leader Kenneth Kaunda.

He is seen as an experienced politician, having served under Mr Kaunda.

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