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LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Zambians wept on the streets of the capital, Parliament suspended its session and even a doctors’ strike was called off as the southern African nation mourned its president Wednesday.The Zambian flag flew at half staff throughout the country, and radio and television stations replaced normal programs with messages of condolence after President Levy Mwanawasa died Tuesday in a French military hospital where had been treated since suffering a stroke in June.

“President Mwanawasa was a true servant of the people who served this country with dignity and honor,” Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president of Zambia, said in a message that was aired.

“We have lost a great leader who had a real vision for leadership and problems that face the country.”

Mwanawasa’s body was expected to be returned to Lusaka on Sunday, according to secretary to the Cabinet, Joshua Kanganja. In a statement Wednesday, Kanganja added the body would lie in state and be buried Monday.

Cabinet ministers, top civil servants and officials of the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy met Wednesday and decided Mwanawasa would be buried in a mausoleum being built in central Lusaka.

Vice President Rupiah Banda was expected to continue as acting president until an election that must be held within 90 days.

Mwanawasa, 59, was praised abroad for taking the unusual step of criticizing a fellow African leader.

Speaking earlier this year of neighboring Zimbabwe and the exodus of millions of its citizens, Mwanawasa said the country “has sunk into such economic difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their lives.”

President Bush on Tuesday praised Mwanawasa for speaking out against human rights abuses and threats to democracy “when many others were silent.”

Mwanawasa also was outspoken about Western criticism of the unconditional aid that China is pouring into Africa, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars China has invested in mining Zambian copper.

Qin Gang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday expressed his country’s sorrow over Mwanawasa’s death.

“He was a very outstanding politician who made a great contribution to his country’s development and regional peace and development,” Qin said. “He attached great importance to Zambia’s relations with China and did a lot for the friendly cooperation between the two countries.”

At home, Zambians say Mwanawasa will be remembered for his anti-corruption crusade and his economic successes. His economic austerity and market-opening policies drew support from Western donors who in 2005 canceled nearly all of Zambia’s $7.2 billion foreign debt. Mwanawasa also tamed inflation, from 21.7 percent when he became president to an estimated 6.6 percent.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.