Lusaka - Key dates in the post-independence history of Zambia, which holds a presidential election on Thursday:Hundreds of people queue to vote at Kanyama Basic school voting station during Zambian general elections in Lusaka. (AFP) 'Africa's Gandhi'On October 24, 1964, the country, known under British rule as Northern Rhodesia, becomes an independent state within the Commonwealth.Kenneth Kaunda, head of the main nationalist party and nicknamed "Africa's Gandhi" for his non-violent, independence-related activism, becomes its first president. He rules for 27 years under a single-party system.He hosts many groups and leaders fighting against their own colonial rulers and apartheid, including the ANC.Food riots In December 1986, widespread hunger in the country's northern copper belt region sparks riots.In 1987, Zambia breaks off ties with the International Monetary Fund. In 1989, in dire economic straits, it adopts austerity measures.In June 1990, riots fuelled by economic hardship claim 45 lives.First multi-party elections In December 1990, following a referendum, multi-party democracy is adopted.In October 1991, Frederick Chiluba and his Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) win the first multi-party elections, marking the end of Kaunda's rule.Less than a year later, the Chiluba administration launches a privatisation programme, which concerns 250 state firms.In November 1996, Chiluba and the MMD win a new mandate, after barring the way to a return of Kaunda via a constitutional amendment. The results of the polls are contested by the opposition.In August 2001, Chiluba, under popular pressure, says he will not stand in the next presidential election, having failed to change the constitution in a bid for a third term.Democratic ping-pong In January 2002, Chiluba's chosen successor, Levy Mwanawasa, is inaugurated after narrowly winning the December 2001 election. The poll is marred by accusations of fraud.On August 19, 2008, after winning a second mandate in 2006, Mwanawasa dies in a Paris hospital and vice president Rupiah Banda steps in.In October 2008, Banda is named president after winning a close race against Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF).Sata briefly in powerIn September 2011, Sata, whose nickname is "King Cobra," wins the presidential election, which has been tainted by sporadic violence in Lusaka and in mining towns.Sata is accused of abuses by the opposition, which accuse him of carrying out a "witch hunt", and by former supporters, who accuse him of having reneged on his promises.In October 2014, Sata dies aged 77 in London from an undisclosed illness.In January 2015, interim leader Edgar Lungu of the PF is sworn in, pledging to unite the country and rebuild the economy after narrowly winning a special election that is rejected by the opposition.Electoral campaign marked by clashes In March 2016, leading opposition politician, Geoffrey Mwamba, vice president of the United Party for National Development (UPND), is arrested twice and faces charges of training a private militia and threatening the president.In July 2016, political campaigning is suspended for 10 days because of violent clashes between supporters of the PF of Lungu and the UPND led by Hakainde Hichilema ahead of August 11 elections.