With Zambia’s president ailing, his predecessor Rupiah Banda hinted at a possible return to politics on Wednesday, telling AFP he would change the country’s constitution if elected.
The 77-year-old Banda said he had “heard those calls” for him to return to the political fray amid speculation that incumbent Michael Sata’s apparent illness may force early elections.
“Up to now I have not reacted, I am just listening. I am legally eligible to stand but I have not reacted,” Banda said.
He added that enacting a new constitution would be his top priority if he makes a return to politics.
“Instantly it would be announced that the constitution has to be changed,” he said. “My running cry will be to have a new constitution.”
Banda was defeated at elections in 2011 but would be a formidable rival for the ruling Patriotic Front.
This despite facing a series of corruption charges which his supporters say are political motivated.
Sata has two more years left on his term but has been beset by rumours about ill health.
After not being seen in public for three months, in September he appeared in parliament, telling lawmakers “I am not dead,” but doing little else to end suggestions he is gravely ill.
Later in the month he failed to make a scheduled speech to the UN general assembly.
Banda on Wednesday refused to comment on his successor’s health.
“There has been no official announcement to the president’s health and so I would not want to comment on that issue. The president is my brother,” he said
During the last elections Sata promised to pass a new constitution within 90 days significantly limiting the president’s powers and introducing a run-off in presidential elections.
No such reforms have been passed.