Guy Scott, was Wednesday appointed Zambia’s interim president after the death of Michael Sata Tuesday.
Scott, 70, became the first white leader of an African country since FW de Klerk stepped down as president of South Africa in 1994.
He is the first white head of a democratic government in Africa “since the Venetians”.
Scott, who will serve for 90 days until a new election is held, told the Telegraph that his sudden promotion was “a bit of a shock to the system”, adding “I’m very proud to be entrusted with it.”
Sata, 77, died on Tuesday at the King Edward VII Hospital in West London.
Until his death, the acting president of Zambia was Edga Lungu, the defence minister, but Scott said he had stepped into the position, in accordance with the constitution.
Lungu Wednesday confirmed Scott’s appointment, saying: “Dr Scott will act as president of the Republic of Zambia until the country goes for a presidential by election”.
Under a clause in the constitution which dictates that only those whose parents were born in Zambia can be president, Mr Scott’s promotion is expected to last no longer than 90 days.
Zambia, formerly the British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, achieved independence in 1964.
The colourful and plain-speaking Scott is popular among his countrymen.
As the agriculture minister he was credited with steering his country out of a food crisis prompted by a drought in the early 1990s.
He was born in Livingstone, Zambia, but his father was from Glasgow and immigrated to Northern Rhodesia in 1927, where he worked as a doctor on Cecil Rhodes’ railway, then a politician fighting for African rights, a lawyer and a newspaper publisher.
Scott’s mother was from Watford and moved to Zambia in 1940.
He Scott studied mathematics and economics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and gained a doctorate in cognitive science from Sussex University.
He lectured and researched robotics at Oxford.
Two of his sons live in Britain, his daughter is studying there and another son works in Zambia.