AFRICANGLOBE – Zambia celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence on Friday without President Michael Sata, who left the country last weekend for medical treatment at an undisclosed destination abroad.
Acting president Edgar Lungu led the celebrations. He made no mention of Sata’s condition or whereabouts, but ex-president Rupiah Banda wished the Zambian leader well.
“I pray for all Zambian people and all who love us and celebrate with us that the blessings of our almighty God come upon our beloved President,” Banda said in a statement.
The celebrations began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Freedom Statue in the capital, Lusaka, and ended at the Heroes Stadium with various performances.
Sata, 77, left Zambia for an undisclosed country on Sunday night accompanied by his wife and family members. A brief government statement gave no further details.
Concern over Sata’s health has been mounting in Africa’s second-largest copper producer since June, when he disappeared from the public eye without explanation and was then reported to be getting medical treatment in Israel.
He missed a scheduled speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September amid reports that he had fallen ill in his New York hotel. A few days before that, he had attended the opening of parliament in Lusaka, joking: “I am not dead.”
Sata has not been seen in public since he returned to Zambia from New York in late September.