10 January 2019

Malawi: Doubts Over Udf, DPP Electoral Alliance - Atupele On Spotlight After Obtaining Forms for Presidency

There are doubts there will be an electoral alliance between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections as both parties have indicated they are fielding a presidential candidate.

DPP is fielding incumbent President Peter Mutharika, who is seeking the second and final mandatory five year term. While UDF's torchbearer is Atupele Muluzi, who is also Minister for Health and Population in President Peter Mutharika's Cabinet.

Both Mutharika and Muluzi have collected their nomination forms from the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

There has been social media speculation that DPP and UDF, currently in a working relationship in Parliament, would form an electoral alliance with Muluzi earmarked as Mutharika's running mate. But both DPP and UDF spokespersons have dismissed the reports as baseless.

The social media was also rife with reports of Muluzi rejecting the position of State Second Vice President which President Mutharika offered him as a pact for an electoral alliance between the parties in watershed May tripartite elections.

The reports claimed that UDF bargained for five Cabinet posts.

Among the agreements, DPP agreed not to contest in areas where UDF has sitting MPS in Mangochi, Machinga and Balaka districts and this did not go well with some DPP gurus including its Vice President for the Eastern Region Bright Msaka who is aspiring to be legislator for Machinga Likwenu .

The UDF and DPP became bedfellows soon after the 2014 Tripartite Elections and Muluzi's party further moved from the opposition to government benches in the 193-member National Assembly.

Both UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga and DPP spokesman Nicholous Dausi said working together in Parliament is not an elections' issue.

"The UDF party has never given any conditions to any political party, let alone DPP. When we read these stories in the media we wonder who is behind them. We suspect that there are people with ill-motives who want to bring confusion among our supporters. If indeed the story is true, why is it that it always has anonymous sources? How credible are these sources if they are not confusionists who have their own personal agendas? They are using the concept of 'fake' news to derail us," Ndanga said in comments reported by The Nation.

" As UDF, we will not be disturbed by these stories because we have our strategy and I can safely say that it is working perfectly well. We will continue to focus on our strategy and no amount of propaganda will derail us," he added.

Meanwhile, Muluzi has been in the media spotlight after collection of nomination forms with Ernest Thindwa, who teaches political science at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, saying is UDF will be on presidential ballot "it will be visible and people will see that it is still active."

Thindwa said Muluzi has done "the right thing to collect the papers."

But he pointed out that Muluzi may use the nomination forms to go into a discussion of any possible alliance "on a position of strength."

He noted that if Muluzi will contest the presidency, he will be dividing the votes in the South.

UDF, which won four presidential elections on the trot after the fall of dictator Kamuzu Banda 24 years ago, had its candidate Atupele Muluzi on position four in 2014 elections.

Now, the 40-year-old, who iced his 'agenda for change' to take a Cabinet post in the DPP administration, has become the poster face of his party's controversial alliance with its 11-year-old offshoot.

He is touting a "new beginning", disputing suggestions that by entering into a working relationship with the DPP, he sold the party; arguing he accepted to help run the country because he wanted unity and development.

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