Zambia's former president Kenneth Kaunda. - Gulf News Archives Image Credit:

Kaunda’s fall from grace

1997 - The arrest of Zambia’s former president Kenneth Kaunda is a humiliating indignity for a man who was for decades accorded the honours of a revered elder statesman. Kaunda is a veteran statesman respected for leading his country to independence even after his shine wore off. But the former president, voted resoundingly out of office by his economically suffering people when they were given a choice in 1991, has had strained relations with the government of President Frederick Chiluba who succeeded him. The 73-year-old politician was detained for 28 days but given no grounds for his arrest, which aides said they presumed had something to do with an abortive coup attempt in October. Kaunda denies any involvement.

December 25

1741 - Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius creates the Centigrade temperature scale.

1897 - Italy cedes Kassala to Egypt.

1923 - The Imperial Theater opens in New York City, US.

1926 - Hirohito becomes emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito.

1936 - Mutinous warlords in China release Chiang Kai-shek after kidnapping him and holding him for 12 days.

1941 - Hong Kong surrenders to Japan in Second World War.

1952 - Queen Elizabeth II gives her first Christmas speech.

1959 - Soviet Union agrees to give financial and technical aid to Syria.

1971 - Fire burns down hotel in Seoul, South Korea, killing 139 people.

1974 - Cyclone devastates Darwin, Australia.

1977 - Comedian Charlie Chaplin dies at age 88.

1985 - Glowing rivers of lava flow from Mount Etna in Sicily after eruption and earthquake.

1986 - Iraqi Airways jetliner with 107 people aboard explodes as it attempts a forced landing on a remote desert airstrip in Saudi Arabia. Sixty-two people die.

1989 - Deposed Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, are executed in Romania.

1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev formally resigns as president of the Soviet Union.

1994 - Algeria grants permission for a French jetliner to fly to France with Muslim militant hijackers and their hostages.

1996 - A tropical storm lashes the Pacific island of Borneo, killing at least 120 people.

1999 - Astronauts release the newly repaired Hubble Space Telescope from the space shuttle Discovery.

2001 - At least 42 people are killed when two trains packed with holidaymakers collide on the Indonesian island of Java.

2003 - A plane bound for Beirut crashes into the sea after takeoff from Benin killing more than 80 people.

2006 - Ethiopian warplanes attack two Islamist-held airfields in Somalia.

2010 - A suicide bomber dressed in a burqa kills 43 people in the Bajaur tribal area of northwest Pakistan. .