Nine opposition political parties are engaged in talks expected to map the way forward on a possible electoral alliance in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Sources privy to the discussions confided that the parties involved in the high-level discussions include the recent-past governing People’s Party (PP), newly registered UTM Party, Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and six others under the banner of Tikonze People’s Movement. The sources said the parties were scheduled for another round of talks in Lilongwe last evening after meeting on Monday.
In the event of the parties agreeing on the alliance it would be the biggest electoral partnership ahead of the elections.
The sources said the meetings are being held at the residence of immediate past president and PP leader Joyce Banda in Lilongwe. They added that besides Banda, other high-level attendees have included UTM president and the country’s incumbent Vice-President Saulos Chilima and his party secretary general (GS) Patricia Kaliati, PP GS Ibrahim Matola, Aford president Enoch Chihana, People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) president Mark Katsonga and Tikonze torchbearer and the country’s former vice-president Cassim Chilumpha.
During his news conference in Lilongwe yesterday, Chilima indicated that his party was in talks with other opposition parties to enhance chances of winning the elections.
He said: “It is important to join forces and form a formidable force in order to ensure that victory is on our side. You can be assured that we have engaged other parties on this matter. But we will confirm whether we have partners in a matter of days.”
But political commentator Henry Chingaipe said it would not be easy to make headway in coalition talks involving nine parties because there were several complex issues to address.
He said: “To balance the interests of nine parties is not a simple task. Besides, you have to look at the geographical support of the parties involved. In my view, each party that comes into an electoral alliance should come with an ability to add votes to the common candidate which I do not think applies in this case.”
When asked on the talks, UTM Party director of publicity Joseph Chidanti Malunga said: “I cannot say beyond what the president said that there are talks that are taking place. But with regard to substantive issues of those discussions, I am not in a position to know.”
Matola said he was not part of the talks.
He said: “I know that our party president made mention some time before of a number of coalition talks but as it stands now I cannot say whether we are discussing with anyone or not. But by the end of this week you should have more information on developments.”
But three of the delegates to the meeting confided in The Nation that the talks centred on finding common candidates for presidential and running mate slots.
Talks of electoral partnerships on the opposition side have been reported since last year when some parties, including Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and PP, discussed the possibility of forming an alliance.
University of Malawi Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the coalition if it worked would not be a deciding factor for the elections. n