Lusaka - Zambia's First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa on Monday blocked the country's main opposition leader from attending a funeral procession for her husband, President Levy Mwanawasa, who died last week, state radio said.

The first lady allegedly ordered security guards to eject Michael Sata, a once arch-rival of Mwanawasa, who had flown to the eastern province to attend a provincial funeral procession, the radio said.

Sata and Mwanawasa had reconciled in May 2008.

"She needs to be taught manners. She behaved as if she has not lost her husband," Sata said in a telephone interview.

Some members of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) have called on the first lady, widely seen as a power behind the throne, to consider standing for the presidential elections to replace her husband.

The veteran opposition leader, who is seen as a front-runner for the presidential elections due by November, has since returned to Lusaka after the spat with the first lady.

Sata is a former government minister who served in various positions before defecting from the ruling party to form the Patriotic Front, which is Zambia's largest opposition party.

Mwanawasa, who had battled poor health for many years, died on Tuesday in a Paris hospital after suffering his second stroke in a little over two years in Egypt at the end of June.

Mwanawasa's body is being moved to all nine province centres ahead of the burial scheduled for Wednesday next week in the capital, Lusaka.