Mwanawasa died Tuesday at a hospital in Paris nearly two months after
suffering a stroke, Zambian and French officials confirmed. He was 59.
Mwanawasa fell ill in late June at an African Union summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Zambian officials said at the time.
Mwanawasa's death "is a great loss for the Zambian people who respected
and had great affection for him," according to a statement from French
President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"It's a great loss for the African
continent as a whole, which appreciated his political courage,"
Sarkozy's statement said. "It's a big loss for democracy, for which he
was an ardent defender his whole life.
"France salutes his memory, full of courage and liberty."
The Zambian leader was taken from a hospital in Egypt to an intensive
care unit in Paris in June, but initial reports that he died days later
turned out to be false.
Mwanawasa would have turned 60 on September 3.
President Bush also issued a statement mourning the loss of Mwanawasa,
described by the U.S. leader as "a champion of democracy in his own
country and throughout Africa."
"As President of Zambia,
President Mwanawasa launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign and
dedicated himself to improving the welfare of all Zambians," according
to the White House statement.
"As Chairman of the Southern
African Development Community, President Mwanawasa worked tirelessly to
uphold the values of good governance, speaking out against human rights
abuses and threats to democracy when many others were silent.
"On behalf of the United States, we extend our sincere condolences to
President Mwanawasa's wife, his family, and all Zambians during this