Blantyre-based businessperson Caesar Fatchi, who was challenging Malawi President Joyce Banda at the Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) national conference slated for this Monday, has withdrawn from the race.
Fatchi, in an interview on Sunday, confirmed his withdrawal, saying he failed to collect and fill nomination forms in time as stipulated in the partyâ€™s constitution.
Said the contender: â€œProcedurally, I was late. The closing date for the submission of the nominations was August 22, but I went there two days later. So, I have decided to withdraw because I did not meet the conditions.
â€œI am not bitter that I have withdrawn. In fact, I received a lot of support from party members. I am looking forward to the next conference.â€
He denied being pressed to withdraw by the partyâ€™s politburo, saying nobody harassed him for declaring interest to challenge Banda who is also the partyâ€™s president.
PP deputy publicity secretary Kenneth Msonda said he heard Fatchi wanted to challenge Banda, but indicated that the party received no official nomination from him.
â€œIf there were such a person, we would be very grateful because PP believes in democratic values which allow people to contest for any positions as declared by President Joyce Banda,â€ said Msonda.
Meanwhile, Msonda said all is set for the national conference, scheduled for the College of Medicine Sports Complex in Blantyre, Malawiâ€™s commercial city.
Apart from choosing the party president, delegates will also elect three vice-presidents responsible for the partyâ€™s leadership in the Northern (operations), Central (political affairs) and Southern (administrative) regions.
Current party vice-president for PP Khumbo Kachali has no challenger just like Banda while the partyâ€™s treasurer general Brown Mpinganjira will tussle for the Southern Region with Minister of Transport and Public Works Sidik Mia.
Â In the Central Region, Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa, Energy and Mining Minister Cassim Chilumpha, Clement Stambuli and Chris Chaima are lined up for the contest.
Other items on the agenda include an address by Banda, a report by the treasurer general, adoption of the partyâ€™s constitution and the elections.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for Development of the People (Cedep) have since hailed PP for taking a bold step to conduct a national convention.
â€œWe at CHRR and Cedep are optimistic that the Peopleâ€™s Party convention will avail an opportune time for its members to elect party leaders without fear, favour or any intimidation,â€ reads a statement signed by CHRR executive director Undule Mwakasungula and his Cedep counterpart Gift Trapence. (With additional reporting by Anthony Kasunda, News Analyst)