Zambian leader gives key defence ministry to opposition

Zambia's newly elected President Edgar Lungu (C) reviews a guard of honour after being sworn in on January 25, 2015 at the Heroes National Stadium in Lusaka (AFP Photo/Salim Dawood) (AFP/File)

Lusaka (AFP) - Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Tuesday appointed an opposition lawmaker to the powerful job of defence minister, a post he had held since his election early this year, his office announced.

Richwell Siamunene, 43, is a businessman and member of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), whose leader Hakainde Hichilema narrowly lost to Lungu in the presidential election in January.

Lungu came to power in January after the death of president Michael Sata in October and he retained the defence ministry job until now.

On assuming office he roped in several opposition members into his cabinet.

Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) member Michael Kaingu was appointed education minister while his party counterpart Vincent Mwale took on the sports portfolio.

Several other opposition members hold deputy ministerial posts.

Siamunene is a marketer by profession and runs a real estate business.