Kabwe, Zambia - Zambia's ruling party expelled vice-president Christon Tembo and eight other cabinet ministers on Wednesday for opposing President Frederick Chiluba's plans to extend his rule beyond a 10-year limit.

A spokesperson for the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) told a party congress that Tembo and his colleagues had brought the name of the party into disrepute ahead of a general election later this year.

"It is the resolution of this convention to expel them," said spokesperson Vernon Mwaanga.

The expulsions come a day after a Lusaka court granted an injunction against any disciplinary action taken against Tembo and other party dissidents.

Those expelled along with Tembo include MMD vice-president and Education Minister General Godfrey Miyanda, Legal Affairs Minister Vincent Malambo, Labour Minister Edith Nawakwi and Natural Resources Minister Samuel Miyanda.

Others were Agricuture Minister Suresh Desai, Community Development Minister Dawson Lupunga, Trade and Industry Minister David Mpamba and Mines Minister Syamukayumbu Syamujaye.

Three deputy ministers and eight members of parliament were also expelled.

The expulsions came as several thousand students from colleges in the capital Lusaka and the copperbelt city of Kitwe protested on Wednesday against Chiluba's plans to amend the Zambian constitution and prolong his rule.

Witnesses said police fired several shots in the air to disperse students from Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, while students from the University of Zambia and a college nearby started a class boycott to press Chiluba to leave office.

"In Lusaka, police fired several rounds in the air to disperse students. Students were carrying twigs and leaves and sang anti-Chiluba songs," said a senior police officer. - Reuters