by CLEMENT NAMANGALE
The New Republican
Party (NRP) is reportedly bitter with its alliance partner UDF that has
decided to field parliamentary candidates in the Lower Shire, the
perceived stronghold of NRP president Gwanda Chakuamba.
According to NRP sources, the alliance was only for supporting UDF presidential candidate Bakili Muluzi in the 2009 elections.
A close ally to Chakuamba disclosed last
week that the NRP leader is against UDF’s decision to field its
candidates in the Lower Shire where he thinks his party can do well.
This development, according to the
source, might affect the future of the alliance. But Muluzi yesterday
dismissed the assertion.
On his part, in an interview last week,
Chakuamba declined to comment on the issue, saying UDF director of
research Humphrey Mvula is the appointed spokesperson of the alliance.
Mvula, in a written response, confirmed
UDF intends to field parliamentary candidates in the area, arguing both
parties are at liberty to field the best candidates in various
He said the candidates will undergo intra- and inter-party primary elections where necessary.
Said Mvula: "There is a special
committee drawing membership from both parties that was mandated to
deal with the identification of potential Members of Parliament in the
Lower Shire. This committee is currently building consensus on how best
a most popular candidate could be identified from any of the two
He said the process proposed for the
Lower Shire will apply to other alliance partners in the Central and
Northern regions, depending on where the party in the alliance
considers to be its stronghold.
Mvula said the alliance parties agreed
in principle, subject to special considerations, to accord first
priority and opportunity during the 2009 parliamentary elections to a
party currently holding the constituency in Parliament, irrespective of
whether the MP has defected or not.
He said all parties in the alliance would support one presidential candidate, Muluzi.
But the NRP source said Chakuamba is
disappointed that after his party agreed to support Muluzi, UDF still
wants to give his (Chakuamba’s) party a tough time by fielding
parliamentary candidates in Nsanje and Chikwawa.
"Our feeling was that we have assisted
UDF by supporting Muluzi’s presidency and we thought UDF would do the
same by leaving out the Lower Shire, where we are strong, for our
parliamentary candidates," he said.
The source said the development, if not well resolved, might put the alliance at risk, claiming tension is building up.
But in his remarks on arrival from UK
yesterday, Muluzi dismissed the claim that the alliance is shaky,
arguing the leaders are united.
"My colleagues are also committed," said Muluzi at the end of his speech that covered many other political issues.
A UDF aspirant in the Lower Shire, Audrey Fatchi, told The Nation
last month that Chakuamba was allegedly telling his supporters in the
area to disregard the alliance in the parliamentary race because NRP
has it covered. Fatchi quoted Chakuamba as saying the alliance is only
for the presidential seat.