Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, 97, taken to hospital

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FILE PHOTO: Former President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda speaks during the funeral ceremony for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu

LUSAKA (Reuters) -Zambia's former president Kenneth Kaunda, 97, is receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness at a military hospital in the capital Lusaka, his office said on Monday.

Kaunda ruled Zambia from 1964, when the southern African nation won its independence from Britain, until 1991. He is among the continent's few surviving liberation heroes.

His administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo said in a statement that Kaunda had been feeling unwell and had been admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka.

"His Excellency Dr Kaunda is requesting all Zambians and the international community to pray for him as the medical team is doing everything to ensure he recovers," the statement said.

President Edgar Lungu urged the nation to pray for the former president so that "God may touch him with His healing hand".

"He stood up for this great nation at its most critical moment, and so we can all stand up for him in his moment of weakness," Lungu said on his Facebook page.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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