Cape Town — Zambia's former president Kenneth Kaunda has died.
"We have learned with deep sorrow, of the death of Zambia's first President and our founding father, Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda. He passed away peacefully in Lusaka today, after a short illness.
"We express our deepest condolences to the Kaunda family during their bereavement and pray for strength as they come to terms with this sad loss. Bashikulu KK will be sorely missed by all Zambians and the rest of the people on the African continent. Rest in peace gallant son of Africa, " wrote opposition United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Kaunda was being treated for pneumonia at a military hospital in the capital Lusaka, his office said on June 15.
His administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo said Kaunda, 97, was feeling unwell, and was admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka.
"The Office and family of the First President wish to inform the general public that His Excellency Dr Kenneth D Kaunda First President of the Republic of Zambia has been unwell and was admitted in hospital at Maina Soko Medical Centre. His Excellency Dr Kaunda is requesting all Zambians and the international community to pray for him as the medical team is doing everything to ensure he recovers," read the statement.
Kaunda ruled Zambia from 1964, when the southern African nation won its independence from Britain, until 1991.
After retiring, he was involved in various charitable organisations. One of his notable contributions was his zeal in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
He was among Africa's few surviving liberation heroes.