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Former Zambian president released from jail, under house arrest

Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda   
December 31, 1997
Web posted at: 6:20 a.m. EST (1120 GMT)

LUSAKA, Zambia (CNN) -- Zambian President Frederick Chiluba announced Wednesday that former President Kenneth Kaunda will be released from prison. Kaunda will be placed under house arrest and his political activity will be tightly controlled.

Kaunda, 73, is accused of engineering an unsuccessful coup attempt in October. In jail since Christmas under a state of emergency in effect since the coup, Kaunda mounted a hunger strike until Tuesday.

Kaunda ruled Zambia from the beginning of its independence in 1964 until he lost the country's first multi-party election in 1991.

No specific date for his transfer to house arrest was immediately announced.

Kaunda will be transferred to his home in nothern Lusaka, where he will be prohibited from engaging in any political activity, or talking to the press. Police will will have "complete access" to the house, Chiluba said, and anyone less than 100 yards from the house without police permission will be arrested.

Kaunda's status will be revisited January 29, when the state of emergency decree comes under review.

The United States, Britain, South Africa, Botswana, Libya and the Organization for African Unity called for Kaunda to be put on trial or be released.

Chiluba acknowledged international pressure, saying that African leaders did not want to interfere in Zambia's internal affairs but asked that Kaunda be "accorded the treatment befitting his stature."

The release comes a day after Kaunda was visited in jail by Julius Nyere, former president of Tanzania. Nyere then visited Chiluba, but would not comment on what was discussed.

 
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