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MCP, PP deal focuses on presidency

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By Macdonald Thom & Audrey Kapalamula:

The electoral alliance between Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP) will centre on the presidential race, the parties’ leaders told the press in Lilongwe Monday.

At the press conference, PP president Joyce Banda, who has withdrawn from the May 21 presidential race to pave the way for MCP presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera, said the pact would not change anything on parliamentary and Local Government elections.

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“Our goal is to make sure that Dr Chakwera wins. We are going to vigorously campaign for our candidate. For the other elections [Parliamentary and Local Government], both parties will field their candidates and let the best candidate win,” Banda said.

Asked about what exactly happened for PP to terminate its alliance with UTM, Banda said the two parties did not reach any agreement.

“MCP and UTM gave us an offer. There were other parties I cannot talk about at the moment. The party’s Nec [National Executive Committee] discussed the issue. Members agreed that we should work with UTM. But things did not work out on the issue of MoU [Memorandum of Understanding]. The same Nec agreed that we should not proceed with the alliance and resolved that we should work with MCP,” Banda said.

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She added: “When it comes to Malawi, I am prepared to take any risk, as long as I am convinced that Malawians will benefit from the decision.”

Banda also said she has met Chakwera twice in the United States since 2015. She also said she had a meeting with Chakwera’s running-mate, Sidik Mia, in South Africa.

Chakwera said Malawi has many problems and, to deal with them, there is need for political parties to work together.

“There is need for political parties to work together…All parties are free to join us. No party is going to die for supporting us. We are building a new Malawi,” Chakwera said.

Asked on how he would investigate the sale of the presidential jet during the reign of Banda, Chakwera said it would be a responsibility of institutions that handle such issues.

He, however, wondered why such issues were being raised now.

“If there are issues, they should be concluded. Our leaders need to be respected. I believe [that] if there were enough grounds, they could have arrested her. All this time, they could have concluded the investigations,” Chakwera said.

But Banda said her hands are clean in as far as the sale of the jet is concerned.

She said Cabinet made the decision to sell the jet and, apart from that, the transaction involved the Chief Secretary to the Government, the Attorney General and Secretary to the Treasury.

“The Attorney General is still alive, the Chief Secretary is still alive, and the Secretary to the Treasury who processed that sale is in this country. That issue never goes back to the President. I am very comfortable about that issue. You can investigate not only that issue, but also other issues,” Banda said.

In 2014, MCP and PP got a total of 2,512,116 votes, with the former collecting 1,445,880 votes and 1,056,238 for the latter. Winners of the 2014 elections, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), earned 1,904,339 votes.

But things have changed on the political landscape.

Scores of MCP and PP supporters thronged Golden Peacock Hotel, the press conference venue, where they sang in support of the alliance. Banda read a prepared statement about his withdrawal from the presidential race, before Chakwera summarised it in Chichewa.

Malawi Electoral Commission spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, confirmed receiving Banda’s letter of withdrawal of her candidature.

“We got her letter of withdrawal and we responded. She will not appear on the ballot paper,” Mwafulirwa said.

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