Malawi: Opposition Parties Form Alliance Ahead of Fresh Polls

MCP leader Lazarous Chakwera (in black) and UTM leader Saulos Chilima (in red) were also taking part in protests against last May election results.

Two of Malawi's biggest opposition parties have formed an electoral alliance for the May 19 polls.  The two parties were behind the lawsuit that prompted a court to throw out last year's election results and order a rerun of the vote.  The ruling party has also formed an alliance, setting up a fierce battle for presidency.

Announcing the alliance Wednesday, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Transformation Movement (UTM) said they will soon sign an agreement and pick candidates for president and other posts.

Maurice Munthali, the spokesperson for the Malawi Congress Party, said: “We cannot say those things now, because a big thing is that the two parties are now agreeing that we can work together, because what Malawians are expecting is that 'Are you people agreed that you are going to work together?'  That is important.”

The MCP is led by Lazarus Chakwera while Vice President Saulos Chilima leads the UTM.

The union of the two parties comes a month after the ruling DPP formed an electoral alliance with opposition UDF party.

In the nullified elections from last May, Malawi's President Peter Mutharika of the DPP was reelected with 38 percent of the vote. MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera came second with 35 percent.

Vice President Saulos Chilima of UTM came in third with 20 percent while Atupele Muluzi of the UDF came fourth with five percent.

Political analysts view electoral alliances as the only winning formula in the May 19th elections.  The Constitutional Court has ruled that to be declared the winner, a candidate needs to get a majority of all valid counted votes.

"The race now is very tough because all of them are regarded to be big political parties with big followers in the country, more especially DPP as the ruling party and on other side we have Malawi Congress Party commanding big support, so it really going to be very interesting kind of polls,” said Sheriff Kaisi, the political science lecturer at the Blantyre International University.

Kaisi says it remains difficult to predict the winner.  But analyst Vincent Kondowe, former political science lecturer at Malawi's Catholic University,  says the DPP is in danger.

“But as political terrain looks like, a number of people are expressing dissatisfaction with public service delivery which the DPP government is failing to give the people. I would think that the opposition would win the elections,” he said.

DPP spokesperson Nicolas Dausi told VOA that the party is prepared for the elections and would win the polls “even if they [the polls] were conducted today.”

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