Zambia is squaring up for a bruising encounter with foreign bondholders after saying it cannot pay interest on one of its Eurobonds, in Africa’s first sovereign default since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

A refusal by bond investors on Friday to grant debt relief to the government sets the tone for tough restructuring negotiations with a diverse range of creditors from pension funds in Europe to state-owned Chinese banks that Zambia owes almost $12bn...

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