Lusaka - Zambia's president Michael Sata warned on Monday that high food prices could spark riots, which toppled a previous government, as he put pressure on millers to keep prices down.
Speaking before meeting millers, who have been selling mealie meal at steep prices, Sata said the nation's founding president Kenneth Kaunda lost power in 1991 over food riots.
"If you don't protect the people, I am going to protect them myself. When people rioted during Kenneth Kaunda's time, it's the food riots ...that caused him to be removed from power. I don't want food riots," Sata said.
Prices for staple food mealie meal rose sharply last December, from 45 kwacha ($8.50) up to 80 kwacha ($15) per bag of 25kg in outlets in the capital Lusaka.
Most of the impoverished southern African nation's people cannot afford the increase.
Millers have argued that the high cost of maize from the government reserves, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), sparked the price hike.