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Acting President Candidate to Succeed Mwanawasa


Two days after burying their late President Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) has adopted acting President Rupiah Banda as its candidate for the forthcoming election for Mr. Mwanawasa’s successor. Banda will now face Michael Sata, leader of the opposition Patriotic Front.

“Electing a leader who will promote peace and stability as well as enhance economic development” are the words of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

So is the adoption of Mr. Banda as candidate to succeed Mr. Mwanawasa a step in the right direction?

Neo Simutanyi, Executive Director for Policy Dialogue in Lusaka, Zambia says choosing Banda was significant as it emphasizes unity in the ruling party.

“There was not much division within the ruling MMD. He was, I think, endorsed or elected unanimously. So the significance of that, is that, there will be unity around the candidate,” Simunyani said.

Banda has promised to continue where the late Mwanawasa left off. But Simutanyi says Banda now faces tremendous pressure from the public not to pass an unpopular bill proposing very high salary increases for members of the cabinet.

“ Now that he’s acting President, the country is waiting to see whether he will actually sign the bill into law and it looks like there’s a lot of pressure on him not to do so…”

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