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Zambian Opposition Split Boosts Banda Re-Election Prospects

  • Peter Clottey

Zambian President Rupiah Banda, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao after a signing ceremony for a wide range of mining, trade and cultural agreements, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Feb. 25, 2010 (file photo)

Zambian President Rupiah Banda, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao after a signing ceremony for a wide range of mining, trade and cultural agreements, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Feb. 25, 2010 (file photo)

A scholar says the breakdown of the alliance between Zambia’s two major opposition parties will help advance President Rupiah Banda’s re-election prospects.

Political science lecturer Pheneas Bbaala of the University of Zambia said the coalition was meant to strengthen the fractured opposition’s electoral strengths.

“The alliance was born out of the realization that for many years, the opposition in Zambia though often getting the majority votes has not been able to win elections or to form governments. Because they have traditionally divided their votes,” said Bbaala.

Shortly after its formation, many analysts predicted the alliance between the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) will pose a significant challenge to incumbent President Rupiah Banda and his ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).

Bbaala said that objective remains elusive.

“It seems to me there are some strong feelings of repulsion between the two parties,” he said

Following the alliance’s unraveling, PF leader Michael Sata and the UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema traded verbal jabs.

Zambia's main opposition leader Michael Sata.

Zambia's main opposition leader Michael Sata.

Hichilema accused Sata of being too old to rule the country, while Sata said he will arrest Hichilema for graft and other offenses when he wins this year’s presidential vote.

Bbaala expressed doubt the PF and the UPND will consider another alliance in this year’s election.

“I don’t foresee the two parties reconciling before this year’s elections. However, I still believe it’s possible for the two parties to reconcile probably after the elections,” said Bbaala.

Reports out of Zambia indicate the presidential campaign continues in earnest, although the president has yet to announce the exact date of the vote.

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