Mayor axed for welcoming Hu

2007-02-05 22:15

Lusaka - Zambia's main opposition party, a strong critic of Beijing, on Monday said it would sack a senior official for attending a state welcome for Chinese President Hu Jintao during his weekend visit.

The Patriotic Front, whose leader Michael Sata accuses China of "dumping" people and goods in his country, said Susan Nakazwe, the mayor of the capital Lusaka, would be axed for insubordination.

Nakazwe had been ordered to boycott all state functions hosted for Hu during his three-day tour, but she went to the airport on Saturday to receive him with other Zambian officials, said the party's general secretary.

"She will be sacked for indiscipline. She was told not to attend any of those functions but she decided to ignore party orders," said Guy Scott.

"How can she be invited when the party president has been snubbed?" said Scott.

Zambia whittled down Hu's itinerary during the three-day state visit after learning of planned anti-Chinese protests and snubbed main opposition leader Sata, who was not invited to any function laid on for Hu.

The Patriotic Front, which controls all major urban zones in Zambia, has called for the expulsion of Chinese traders from Zambia, saying they were taking work away from locals.

Sata, a populist leader, had said in the run-up to the September general elections that he would open diplomatic relations with Taiwan, if elected president. He lost the polls to incumbent President Levy Mwanawasa.