Zambia's ex-leader Kaunda, 97, treated for pneumonia: aide

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Kaunda being helped down steps in September 2019 at the funeral of Zimbabwean former president Robert Mugabe

Zambia's 97-year-old former president Kenneth Kaunda is being treated for pneumonia in hospital and is improving, his aide said on Tuesday.

Kaunda, the country's founding father who ruled Zambia for 27 years from 1964, was admitted to Maina Soko military hospital in the capital Lusaka on Monday.

"He is being treated for pneumonia but he doesn't have Covid," his administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo told AFP, dispelling rumours that the nonagenarian had contracted the coronavirus.

"The problem of pneumonia comes up regularly and each time you hear he is in hospital, it's because of pneumonia," he said.

He added that he "has made some improvement since" he was admitted on Monday.

Kaunda, popularly known by his initials KK, was head of the main nationalist party, the left-of-centre United National Independence Party (UNIP) which led the country to freedom from British colonial rule.

The landlocked southern African country has enjoyed relative stability since its first multi-party elections in 1991, when Kaunda was defeated.

African Union (AU) chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat wished Kaunda -- the last remaining founding member of the Organisation of African Unity, the forerunner to the AU -- a "speedy and full recovery".