Zambian President Gets a Word of Encouragement

Bishops Discuss Problems Facing Nation

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LUSAKA, Zambia, FEB. 3, 2002 ( The Catholic bishops of Zambia thanked the country´s new president for trying to clamp down on government waste, but highlighted their fears about poverty, corruption, AIDS and the agricultural situation.

The episcopal conference met President Levy Mwanawasa on Jan. 25 and also thanked him for his housing initiative and his effort to streamline the government. Mwanawasa has tried to raise the morale of public service workers urging them to work for the good of the whole country.

The Catholic bishops promised that they «would gladly» be available «for wide and deliberate consultations.»

Last month, Mwanawasa named a 20-member Cabinet with a warning that he would tolerate no graft in his new government.

Political analysts said Mwanawasa still needed to overcome questions of legitimacy raised after his controversial electoral victory and to show he had broken with rampant corruption seen under his predecessor and mentor, President Frederick Chiluba, according to Reuters on Jan. 7.

Mwanawasa, a 53-year-old lawyer, won less than 30% of the vote in a closely contested Dec. 27 election that the opposition said was marred by vote rigging. Th election triggered protests which have since subsided in this southern African nation of 9.7 million.

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