Zambia's president was talking up his country’s economy at an outdoor press conference when a monkey sitting in a tree above urinated on him, mid-sentence.
President Rupiah Banda, whose controversial inauguration in 2008 provoked small-scale riots, called the press conference to speak about recent riots that have erupted throughout the country due to a deepening global recession and its effect on the price of copper, Zambia's principal export.
"You have urinated on my jacket!" he shouted back at the monkey.
“I will give this monkey for lunch to Mr. Sata,” he joked, referring to his political rival, Michael Sata.
Banda took control of Zambia in 2008 after the former president, Levy Mwanawasa, suffered a stroke.
Since his inauguration, he has focused on improving the economy and reducing taxes on food and fuel to “help Zambia to become a middle income country by 2030."
Zambia’s ruling party has already put Banda forth as a candidate for the 2011 presidential elections, despite widespread claims that his 2008 victory was fraudulent. Banda beat Sata by 2 percent, though Sata had led in the polls.
Strange incidents involving presidents and press conferences are not unprecedented, of course. At a 2008 press conference in Iraq, former U.S. President George W. Bush ducked to avoid a shoe thrown by an angry Iraqi journalist.
Bush was unphased by the incident, despite it being a grave insult in Arabic culture, saying later, “If you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw”.
In the department of strange liquids landing on politicians, in March 2009 British Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson had a cup of green custard thrown in his face by political activist Leila Deen at a summit on low carbon industrial strategies in London.
Deen is a member of the environmental group ‘Plane Stupid’ and threw the custard in protest of the third runway at Heathrow Airport. She described the incident as a “last resort.”
In Zambia, President Banda took the monkey’s misstep with good grace, later laughing with journalists saying that, “perhaps these [monkey urine spots] are blessings.”
If so, there could be more such blessings. Plenty of animals live near the State House, including antelopes and birds.
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