"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Loopholes in UDF, NRP alliance

The Nation

New Republican Party (NRP) president Gwanda Chakuamba has fielded candidates in some constituencies in Blantyre before his party and its alliance partner United democratic Front (UDF) have reached an agreement on fielding of candidates.

Chakuamba’s move has also shocked UDF national chairman and presidential candidate who said on Wednesday that his party will have to discuss with NRP to get a solution.

"As a party, we shall be looking into those issues," said Muluzi in an interview, sounding surprised at the development.

The NRP president confirmed that he has candidates who are aspiring to be members of Parliament in some constituents in Blantyre. He said he cannot stop them because they are only exercising their rights.

"Some people are aspiring to be candidates. They have aspirations. I cannot stop them. It is their right," Chakuamba said from his Shire Valley home.

UDF director of research Humphrey Mvula said that UDF was aware that Chakuamba has fielded candidates in Blantyre Central and Ndirande Malabada constituencies.

But he said the agreement between the two parties is that each has the priority to field a candidate where it won a seat in the 2004 elections.

Said Mvula: "Where both parties claim to have strong players, we shall both agree to disagree to field our own candidates."

The NRP president, according to our findings, wants to field candidates in the entire Shire Valley but UDF says it also wants to have candidates in constituencies where it had MPs.

One member of the party said UDF is not comfortable with NRP fielding candidates in the Lower Shire because there are fears that some constituencies will be lost.

"UDF feels NRP will lose some seats if left alone to field its own candidates. UDF is assured of victory in constituencies which it has won before," he said.

Chakuamba has been holding meetings in different parts of Chikwawa and Nsanje telling his supporters that the two parties have agreed to regard UDF national chairman Bakili Muluzi as presidential candidate but to field parliamentary candidates from NRP.

Mvula said in July that the two parties were yet to agree on a final modality to be followed in fielding parliamentary candidates. The first part of the agreement between UDF and NRP was to field one presidential candidate who is Muluzi.

He was quoted: "There are constituencies won by UDF in 2004. Those are still largely UDF constituencies. There are also Republican Party constituencies transformed to NRP. We shall deal with the matter at an appropriate time after researching on the ground pertaining to who has performed better and who is likely to win the contest next year."

"That is also when we shall decide to either hold primaries in all constituencies or let sitting MPs through unopposed. If one party turns out to be more popular than the other in a constituency, we shall let it carry the day and we will all respect that. Again if one party fails to field a candidate at all, then the other has to rise to the occasion," said Mvula.

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