Authorities in Zambia held a state funeral Wednesday for the country’s first president and independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda, amid ongoing controversy over his burial site.
Kaunda’s funeral arrangements became the subject of a court challenge after the Zambian government announced plans to inter the late nationalist at a presidential burial site in the capital Lusaka, against the wishes of some of his relatives.
In the court challenge on Tuesday, Kaunda’s son Kaweche said the government’s plan to bury his father’s remains at a presidential burial site was against the African statesman’s wishes.
He contended that Kaunda had wanted to be buried next to his late wife Betty at his residence.
Government solicitor-general Abraham Mwansa said on Tuesday the state had not been served with any court order against the planned burial at the presidential site.
The funeral proceeded on Wednesday at Embassy Park, a national memorial site, with President Edgar Lungu in attendance.
Kaunda enjoyed a 27-year reign as Zambia’s first president and was revered for his struggle for the country’s independence, which sought freedom from White minority rule in the 1950s.
He died on June 17, aged 97, after being treated for pneumonia, his office said.
Kaunda’s casket was moved around the country so that members of the public could pay their respects, following the declaration of a 21-day period of national mourning.
It remains uncertain if Kaunda’s body will be exhumed after the state funeral and reburied in line with his wishes.
Zambian officials have denied there are any rifts with Kaunda’s family over his burial, according to local media reports.
CNN has contacted the Zambian government for comment.
Meanwhile, Lungu has declared Kaunda’s birthday, April 28, as a national holiday.