LUSAKA, Zambia -- Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, who ran his country for 27 years until a recent election defeat, plans to retire from political life next month, the African veteran told United Press International Tuesday.
Speaking by telephone from his Roan Guest House residence in Zambia, Kaunda, 67, said he planned to give up the presidency of his United National Independence Party, UNIP, in January and retire into private life.
'I want to be relieved' from party president responsibilities, Kaunda said. 'I would like to do some other work.'
Kaunda, universally known in Africa as 'KK,' became president of Zambia upon independence from Britain in 1964 and ran the country until November this year, stepping down after losing the first multi-party election held in the southern African country since 1972.
Roguish, outspoken Kaunda -- once a fierce advocate of African socialism and a ferocious exponent of the one-party state -- quietly handed over power to opponent Frederick Chiluba despite once promising he would never surrender control of Zambia.
Forced by riots and dissident protest in 1990 to abandon his single- party rule and allow an opposition, he nevertheless had remained convinced his people would never vote him out of office.
Kaunda has headed UNIP, the party he set up to drive colonial Britain out of his country, for the past 32 years.
He told UPI he would ask the party's central committee and national council to relieve him of his responsibilities in January 1992.
'But if the party wanted me to assist them in some campaign, I would be happy to do that work' Kaunda said.
He said he would like to turn his hand to research work, and study what he called 'global peace' as well as health issues related to Zambia.
'I would like to do some research in so far as global peace is concerned. I want to do some work in that field,' Kaunda said.
Kaunda's retirement would make him the last of Africa's grand old men from the era of colonial independence to quit the political field.