Zambia ruling party leaders scramble for presidency

MMD party national secretary Katele Kalumba said on Saturday he had received 16 applications from those wanting to be selected as candidates in a presidential vote in November.

Zambia ruling party leaders scramble for presidency

More than a dozen candidates are jostling to replace the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa in what analysts say is a sign of cracks in the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy(MMD).

MMD party national secretary Katele Kalumba said on Saturday he had received 16 applications from those wanting to be selected as candidates in a presidential vote in November.

Among the first to lodge their applications were Vice President Rupiah Banda, who is now acting president, and Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande.

Kalumba said the MMD's top decision-making body would select a candidate on Sept. 5 to replace Mwanawasa, who died in France two weeks ago after suffering a second stroke. He will be buried on September 3.

Bennett Siamwza, political analyst and historian at the Univesity of Zambia, said the high number of presidential hopefuls pointed to deep divisions in the MMD.

"The MMD party does not appear to be (united) and I see possible cracks after the burial of Mwanawasa because he was like a coating of paint hiding the cracks that have always existed in the party.

"They may pretend to rally behind one candidate (after the selection process) but there are serious divisions in there."

Kalumba said losing candidates would be urged to rally behind the winner. "We are sure we will be united even after we select a candidate," he said.

"Those who wish to go their own way after the selection process should not overestimate themselves and think they can win without party support."

The MMD has been in power since 1991 when trade unionist Frederick Chiluba ousted liberation hero Kenneth Kaunda after the re-introduction of multi-party politics. The party remains popular and has a majority of seats in parliament.

Main opposition Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata, and Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development, the third biggest party in parliament, will also contest the presidential vote.

Mwanawasa had led Zambia since 2001 and was re-elected in 2006. His tough stance against corruption endeared him to donor countries and he was credited with turning Zambia into one of Africa's economic success stories.

Under the constitution, an election must be called within 90 days of the presidential office becoming vacant. The presidential term is five years.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Ağustos 2008, 11:34
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