October 7, 2003

Malawi's opposition struggling to form a coalition

With only eight months to the May 2004 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections, opposition parties in the country are still struggling to form a common front because they are failing to identify a suitable leader. Alliance for Democracy (Aford) Parliamentarian, Manifesto Kayira, cast his doubt on the formation of a common front: "I have my doubts. Very strong doubts. There are individuals in the MCP (Malawi Congress Party) who vehemently oppose any sort of alliance with any party. They are power hungry."

Nixon Khembo, a political scientist at Chancellor College said that it was up to the opposition to identify a leader for the opposition who would be a presidential candidate. "The ruling party has already identified its own and it is selling Dr Bingu Mutharika and his running mate Dr Cassim Chilumpha to the electorate. The opposition, if they are indeed forming a common front, need to do the same," he said. He said the electorate is anxious to know who would be the presidential candidate in the opposition.

Steve Ching'ang'a, Deputy Publicity Secretary in the MCP admitted the opposition parties were finding it difficult to identify a suitable presidential candidate ahead of the 2004 elections. "If we had answers, then we could not be holding these meetings. We are still meeting so that we can have a leader who would be a presidential candidate," he said. But Ching'ang'a was optimistic that the opposition would make a common front. "No single opposition party in the country can win the elections alone. We need to work together, we need to form a formidable force," he reflected.

Salule Masangwi, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Director of Information said discussions on who would lead the opposition were underway but refused to give details, saying the information would help the ruling party strategize their campaign. (Malawi Standard, Lilongwe)


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