Barely two days before presentation of nomination papers gets underway in Blantyre, some parties including former ruling People’s Party (PP) have agreed to endorse UTM Party presidential candidate Saulos Chilima in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
But a statement signed by Chilima, former president and PP leader Joyce Banda, Tikonze Peoples Movement interim vice-president Mark Katsonga Phiri and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) leader Enoch Chihana, said the parties
have agreed to support one presidential candidate who shall be announced on Monday February 4 2019.
Reads the statement: “Appreciating the undoubted importance of unity among Malawians, irrespective of political, persuasions to the
attainment of the country’s development goals; “Recognising that cooperation between well-meaning and unselfish Malawians sharing common political ideologies and interests is indispensable and in the interests of ordinary Malawians;
“Realising that there is a roundswell of support and a united front among Malawians discontented with the sad state of affairs in this country;
“Hereby announce the formation of an electoral alliance between the Parties for the purposes of contesting in the May 2019 Tripartite Elections; “The parties have agreed to support one candidate who shall be announced on Monday 4th February at the Bingu International Conference Centre at 9.30am.”
The statement said further details of the electoral alliance will be announced at the press conference.
But Kalaile Banda in an interview said some parties including PP have agreed to endorse Chilima in the elections.
He said the issue of a running mate was yet to be finalised.
Kalaile also hinted a possibility of the former president retiring from active politics after May 2019 elections.
On Friday a picture of some of the representatives privy to the talks and believed to have been captured during the discussions
went viral on social media.
The rare photo showed Chilima flanked by Joyce Banda,
Katsonga, Tikonze Peoples Movement leader Cassim Chilumpha, Chihana, secretary generals of UTM and PP, Patricia Kaliati and Ibrahim Matola, among others.
In the arrangement, the parties are expected to drum up support for Chilima during their political rallies but will contest separately from UTM in the parliamentary race.
Political commentator Emily Mkamanga in an interview welcomed the alliance saying it would boost the popularity of UTM and its presidential candidate.
She, however, cautioned the electoral alliance members to tread carefully on the contentious
issue of running mate to avoid bringing divisions.
Said Mkamanga: “The people involved in this alliance might think of finding a running mate among themselves which would make some people in UTM jittery as they have worked so hard to have the party established, and others had hope that Chilima would
With the turn of events, it now follows that former president Banda’s plans to contest in the 2019 polls falls off.
She was scheduled to present her nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Tuesday at 2pm in Blantyre on her PP ticket.
A week ago, Banda called upon opposition parties to join forces in an electoral alliance if they are to defeat the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) during the polls.
An inside source to the talks, however, confided to Weekend Nation that the parties endorsing Chilima’s candidature are demanding a 50:50 share of positions especially in Cabinet should the alliance win the polls, but Chidanti-Malunga played down the rumours.
Another source indicated that the coalition members are also contemplating to reach out to the United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi who is Minister of Health.
on Friday a group calling itself Youth for DPP-UDF Alliance issued a statement calling on President Peter Mutharika and
Muluzi to join forces and contest the elections as one group.