1990 Zambia food riots

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During the One party rule of Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia saw a decline in the economy creating disappointment among the people. Several strikes hit the country in 1981. The government responded by arresting several trade union leaders, among them Frederick Chiluba. In 1986 and 1987 protests arose again in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.

1990 food riots

In June 1990, a three-day unrest began after the government more than doubled the price of mealie meal, Zambia's staple food, as part of an economic reform program.[1] About 27 people were killed and more than 100 wounded. Few days later, Lieutenant Christopher Mwamba Luchembe of the Zambia Army attempted a coup d'état to rid the Kaunda government. In the early hours of 1 July 1990, Luchembe announced a hostile takeover on state owned radio at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC). The attempt failed and the situation was curbed within three hours by government forces, leading to the arrest and prosecution of Luchembe.

Birth of a multi-party democracy

These extensive protests made Kaunda realise the need for reform. He promised a referendum on multiparty democracy, and lifted the ban on political parties. This resulted in the quick formation of eleven new parties. Among these Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), led by former union leader Frederick Chiluba, was the most important. After pressure for the new parties the referendum was canceled in favour of direct multiparty election.

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