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LUSAKA (AFP) — Thousands of ruling party supporters marched on Zambian President Rupiah Banda’s offices Thursday in protest at the independent Post newspaper, which has criticised his government.

The protesters from Banda’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) accused two deputy ministers of fueling negative stories about the president by speaking openly to the paper about disagreements within the government.

After the protesters dispersed, Banda announced that he had sacked the two, deputy science minister Jonas Shakafuswa and deputy energy minister Lameck Chibombamilimo.

“If the Post says you are a good minister, then you are not a good minister to me, but to the Post, and I will get rid of you,” Banda said.

He accused the Post of criticising him in order to pressure his government to bail out Zambian Airways, which suspended operations last month after failing to pay creditors on its 40 million dollar debt.

The Post, Zambia’s biggest independent newspaper, is major shareholder in the airline.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All Rights Reserved.

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