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Zambian corruption witness killed

Tembo was the former campaign manager of President Chiluba, pictured  

LUSAKA , Zambia -- A prominent Zambian politician who was due to give evidence in a corruption investigation against three government ministers has been murdered.

Paul Tembo, 41, was shot once in the head by killers who stormed into his home on Friday - just hours before he was due to start giving evidence, his lawyers said.

Tembo's lawyer, Mutembo Nchito, said: "Three killers forced their way into the compound, roughed up Paul, led him to his bed, made him lie on it and then shot him in the back of his head. They made his wife watch."

The corruption case is investigating allegations that Finance Minister Katele Kalumba, Home Affairs Minister Peter Machungwa and Works and Supply Minister Godden Mandandi illegally used $625,000 of state money to finance a ruling party convention held April 27 to May 2.

Tembo's lawyer talks about the killing
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Nchito told CNN: "It looks like a political killing."

"The only special thing about today was Paul was due to give evidence in a very key tribunal that affects key cabinet ministers in the government of President Chiluba," Nchito added.

He said the government had issued a statement saying there does not appear to be a linkage to his Tembo's murder and politics.

Sakwiba Sikota, another lawyer for Tembo, told the Associated Press news agency: "Tembo had a wealth of information which was going to guarantee that a good number of powerful people in the (ruling party) would be locked away in jail for their corruption and other thefts."

Tembo quit the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) last month -- after he lost elections to be the party's vice-president by one vote -- and joined a new opposition party, the Forum for Development and Democracy (FDD).

He was instrumental in the campaign for a constitutional amendment that would have allowed President Frederick Chiluba to run for a third five-year presidential term.

Tembo headed Chiluba's re-election campaign in 1996 but accused him of having rigged the party's internal elections to prevent him from being vice-president.

The FDD, which has emerged as the most serious challenge to Chiluba's MMD at presidential and general elections due this year, immediately blamed state agents for Tembo's assassination.

A senior FDD official told Reuters: "This can only be the work of those who felt threatened at the evidence Tembo was due to give at the tribunal and those threatened by his mobilisation skills in getting the MMD out of power this year."

Paul Tembo is survived by his wife and five children.

• Zambian Government

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