‘Mwanawasa mentally fit to rule’

This is according to a medical report released in Lusaka this week aimed at clearing the uncertainty surrounding the illness of Zambia’s third President who took office in 2002.

According to the constitution of Zambia a sitting republican president is relieved of his duties if it is medically proven that he mentally impaired.

The report released by a team of doctors that have been treating and observing Mwanawasa’s recovery confirmed that he has both physical and speech impairment resulting from what they call a left-sided mild stroke he suffered in the early morning of March 31, 2006 which prompted his evacuation to London.

“The president was well till he suffered a left-sided mild stroke in the early morning of 31st March 2006 at around 06:15. The president had residue weakness of the right arm and leg and had difficulty in communicating.

“A diagnosis of mild left-sided stroke with right-sided weakness of the face, right arm and right leg was made. A decision was then made that his Excellency, the President be evacuated for further investigations of the stroke, including a Magnetic Resonance (MRI) scan which is not available in Zambia,” says the medical report which also explains that: “There was no impairment of the higher mental function.”

The report says the medical team had interacted closely and extensively with Mwanawasa for eleven weeks and observed him at work and home and that the doctors carried out tests that indicate that “there is no intellectual impairment” while there has been significant speech improvement.

As confirmed by the report Mwanawasa still has some slight difficulty in walking.

“His Excellency, the President still has minor limp, especially after strenuous exercise but this again has improved compared to 11 weeks ago. The medical team is working on this and full recovery of physical impairment is expected in the next couple of months or so,” says the report compiled by four doctors with various medical expertise.

The group led by Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Simon Miti said Mwanawasa should be able to resume normal duties in the next four weeks.

“Going by the remarkable improvement made by His Excellency, the President since the mild stroke, the conclusion of both the local and international medical experts is that currently there is no medical reason why His Excellency, the President cannot resume normal duties and that he is mentally and physically fit to perform Presidential functions for now and the future. It is expected that the President will be able to fully attend to outside engagements that will include political rallies in the next 4 to 6 weeks,” concludes the report that was released on Sunday.

This being an election year Mwanawasa is expected to go on a campaign trail if he is to be re-elected for his second and last term of office later this year.

Chief government spokesman Vernon Mwaanga says Mwanawasa is ready and eager to campaign.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Mwaanga who is also information minister said: “As the nation is aware, the MMD has already chosen him (Mwanawasa) as the party’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections and the party is supportive of his candidature. He is now set and in fact itching to start campaigning,” said Mwaanga.

After suffering the stroke Mwanawasa was rushed to London on 1st April and remained in hospital for three weeks before being discharged.

June 2006
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