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Zambia To Release Ex-President

December 31, 1997

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ Bowing to international pressure, the Zambian government agreed today to release imprisoned ex-President Kenneth Kaunda, but said he will be kept under house arrest and is barred from political activities.

President Frederick Chiluba said Kaunda, who is accused of being behind an Oct. 28 coup attempt, would be freed from Mukobeko maximum security prison in Kabwe, 80 miles north of the capital, Lusaka.

It was not clear when the 73-year-old former president, considered the father of Zambia’s independence, would be released. Kaunda was arrested on Christmas soon after returning to Zambia from a trip abroad.

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

Chiluba said in a nationally broadcast news conference that he granted house arrest for Kaunda following appeals from former Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the chairman of the Organization of African Unity.

Kaunda would be restricted to his home in northern Lusaka under a state of emergency enacted after the coup attempt. He will not be permitted to engage in political activities, give interviews or issue press statements, Chiluba said.

Police would have ``complete access″ to Kaunda’s villa and determine who would be allowed to visit, Chiluba said.

The restriction order, which would allow police to arrest anyone within 100 yards of Kaunda’s home without their permission, will be reviewed when the state of emergency decree is reviewed Jan. 29.

Chiluba said regional leaders did not wish to interfere in Zambia’s internal affairs but had urged that Kaunda be ``accorded the treatment befitting his stature.″

Kaunda led Zambia to independence from Britain in 1964. He ruled the southern African nation for 27 years until he lost to Chiluba in the nation’s first multiparty elections in 1991.

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