Flamboyant businessman Steve Mikaya and Hussein Mwalabu pulled out of the Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) provincial (regional) committee elections on Friday, citing breach of elections guidelines.
Delegates to the elections, which were held at Motel Paradise in Blantyre, rejected guidelines of the secret ballot when chairman of the elections Bentley Martin Phiri announced the procedures.
The delegates instead asked the team overseeing the elections that voters should line up behind the candidates of their choice.
After consultations with other senior members, Phiri announced that voters would line up behind their candidates, a decision that attracted wild celebrations among the delegates.
But the decision did not amuse Mikaya and Mwalabu who were set to challenge Ali Mâ€™balaka for the position of chairperson.
Mikaya asked to speak to the delegates and he dropped a bombshell.
“I am pulling out because there is a breach to the electoral rules,” he said before walking out of the hall.
He accused the returning officers of failing to adhere to the set guidelines, wondering why only the South had to bend the rules while the Centre, East and North voted secretly.
Mwalabu shared the sentiments and followed Mikaya out of the hall.
Another candidate, Gift Mwamondwe, a former Member of Parliament for Blantyre Central, also pulled out, but opted to contest the position of director of research.
Little known Finley Fulukiya, who challenged Mâ€™balaka, failed to attract any vote from a pool of about 400 voters.
Mâ€™balaka was declared winner, amid jubilation from his supporters.
But Fulukiya, while conceding defeat, alleged that there were a lot of problems before the polls.
However, he pledged to support Mâ€™balaka.
Meanwhile, Jean Kamphale is now new director of women for the region.
Lemani Chapitapansi retained the position of youth director after receiving overwhelming votes.
The provincial elections will lay the groundwork for the partyâ€™s national conference scheduled for next month in Blantyre.
The party was launched last year and its interim leader is President Joyce Banda.