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Scott became vice president three years ago.
His boss, President Michael Sata, died Tuesday while undergoing treatment for an unknown illness in London.
Zambia’s constitution requires fresh elections within 90 days.
Until then, Scott, who is of Scottish descent, assumes interim presidency.
It’s unclear, however, whether he can run for president in the elections. The nation’s constitution says a candidate’s parents must have been born in Zambia; his were not.
Misoprostol for sale without prescription Scott makes history
Scott was born in 1944 in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, which later became Zambia after independence from Britain.
Shortly after his graduation from Cambridge University and University of Sussex with a degree in economics and a doctorate in cognitive science, he returned home and worked for the finance ministry.
He later took a break from the ministry and ventured into wheat and strawberry farming. But politics wooed him back in in 1990, when he was elected to chair the nation’s agriculture committee.
“Dr Scott’s participation in Zambian politics was inspired by his late father, who was an ally of Zambian nationalists and a founder of anti-colonial government newspapers including the African Mail, now the Zambia Daily Mail,” a profile on his party website says.
His father was a member of parliament for the capital of Lusaka before independence.
Before joining Sata’s opposition party, which became the ruling party three years ago, he briefly left politics to focus on his agricultural business.
His new position will put him in the history books.
South African President Frederik de Klerk was the continent’s last white President. His party lost to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa’s first multiracial, fully democratic elections in 1994.
De Klerk took a deputy position in the new government for two years