Lusaka (AFP) – Zambia’s elusive President Michael Sata made a rare public appearance Friday, opening a new session of parliament and declaring “I am not dead.”
The 77-year-old leader, who until recent campaign events had not been seen in public for three months, appeared with his wife, Christine, whom he thanked for keeping him going.
“She has made me stay up to now, I am not dead,” he said, his voice cracking.
Sata, who took power in 2011, is rumoured to be seriously ill, an allegation his office denies.
Analysts say a power struggle is already underway behind the scenes for Zambia’s top job.
Sata’s address Friday was punctuated by jokes, but he did not read the whole address, leaving the full written version for the record.
“I thank you for listening and I am leaving the whole speech to the Speaker,” he said before officially opening parliament.
Sata had said his government would focus on improving the agriculture sector and building new accommodation for the country’s students.
“Agriculture is key towards poverty reduction and our government continues to give priority to national food security,” he said.
Last week state television showed him briefly speaking at a political rally.