Zambia President Michael Sata: State funeral held

Image source, AP
Image caption,
There was a deafening wailing when the coffin came into the stadium

Zambia has held a state funeral for President Michael Sata, who died last month aged 77 after receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness in a UK hospital.

Tens of thousands of people attended the Catholic Mass at the National Heroes Stadium in the capital, Lusaka.

Regional leaders were amongst those who came to pay their respects.

Known as "King Cobra" for his venomous tongue, Mr Sata was elected Zambia's president in 2011.

The country is now being run by an acting president, and fresh elections are expected in January.

'Dance with my father'

The BBC's Dennis Okari in Lusaka says when the coffin of the late president was brought into the stadium there was a deafening wailing.

A moving and emotional ceremony followed, he says.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Thousands queued to get a place inside Lusaka's Heroes Stadium for the funeral
Image source, AP
Image caption,
The start of proceedings was delayed as the stadium filled up
Image caption,
Several regional leaders also came to pay their respects
Image source, AP
Image caption,
There was a Catholic mass followed by tributes
Image source, AP
Image caption,
Michael Sata's widow spoke and was comforted during the service by Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe

One of the president's children, Gerald Sata, sang Dance with my father, written by US soul singer Luther Vandross.

His widow, Christine Sata, also spoke.

"I am not sure whether you are able to hear all the great things your people are saying about you," she said.

Our reporter says there was thunderous applause when she ended her tribute with the words: "Farewell my president, go well oh my love, rest in true peace."

Over the past week, members of the public have paid their respects to their former leader - streaming past Mr Sata's body as it lay in state at the Mulungushi International Conference Center.

His death came days after Zambia celebrated the 50th anniversary of independence from the UK.

He was the second Zambian president to die in office.

Media caption,
Michael Sata is the second of Zambia's five presidents to die in office

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