March 15, 2005

Ex-vice president to challenge Mwanawasa in polls

Former Zambian Vice President Nevers Mumba has announced that he would challenge President Levy Mwanawasa at the ruling party's May convention and in presidential elections in 2006. Mumba, sacked in October after a diplomatic row involving neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, said he decided to take on Mwanawasa to restore "democratic ideals" in the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). "I have done a lot of consultations and I have decided that I must stand for the MMD presidency and also the 2006 presidential elections. Today, I am one of the leading contenders," Mumba. a former television evangelist, said in a radio broadcast. According to him, the MMD party was being destroyed because of Mwanawasa's poor public relations. "A political party needs somebody who has very good public relations. The president has his own strength, but (public relations) is not part of his strength.” Mumba, once a close Mwanawasa ally, is seen by analysts as the strongest challenge to Mwanawasa, who succeeded former President Frederick Chiluba in 2001 and has since launched a wide-ranging anti-graft campaign targeting former members of Chiluba's administration. Mwanawasa sacked Mumba for insubordination in 2004 for sparking a diplomatic row with the Democratic Republic of Congo, when Mumba said some Congolese businessmen were supporting Zambian opposition parties to destabilise the country. (Rts)

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