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Zambia expels Briton over 'elephant' insult

A British journalist has been deported from Zambia for writing a satirical column in which he jokingly described the impoverished southern African country's President as a "foolish elephant".

Roy Clarke, a British citizen who had worked in Zambia for 30 years and is married to a Zambian, also described ministers as "baboons" in a column which was a spoof of George Orwell's Animal Farm. The article, which described a visit by President Levy Mwanawasa to a national park on Christmas Day, was in Zambia's independent newspaper, The Post.

Zambian law forbids journalists to ridicule the President in written or spoken form. Offenders can be jailed for three years. But many journalists have poked fun at Mr Mwanawasa because of his poor memory and slurred speech after a near-fatal accident in the early 1990s. At one stage, reports claimed, he said he could not remember the name Jesus and described him by saying "that guy who walked on water".

The deportation order by the Home Affairs minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha, gave Mr Clarke 24 hours to leave the country. The Post, which is highly critical of the government, said that the deportation order was stupid.