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Malawi Incumbent President Vows to Win Election Despite Opposition Alliance

President Bingu Wa Mutharika has vowed to handsomely win Malawi's upcoming general elections despite the alliance of two biggest opposition parties aimed to wrestle power away from his Democratic People's party (DPP). Former President Bakili Muluzi of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) joined forces with the Malawi Congress Party poses (MCP) after the former president was disqualified as a presidential candidate. Under the alliance, Muluzi is expected to throw his support behind John Tembo, who is the presidential candidate of the opposition MCP. But President Mutharika said he is least perturbed about the alliance vowing to overwhelm the opposition in the elections.

Noel Mbowela is a political science professor at the Malawi Chancellor College in Zomba. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition alliance presents a heavy challenge to President Mutharika in the general election.

"The statement is a bit controversial and one cannot just take it at face value like that. You will agree with me that the new coalition that has been formed to fight against the ruling party, this one of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP and the UDF the two major opposition parties in the country is quite formidable. I think now the contest will be very close and we could as well start saying that it is unpredictable at the moment because the two parties that we are talking about have got a large following and also in the most populous areas of the country that is the Southern region and the Central region," Mbowela noted.

He said judging by the strengths of the two opposition parties, it would be a significant challenge for the ruling party to beat in the upcoming May 19 general election.

"Looking at these facts, what we are saying is that it is no prediction at this moment in time who is going to be the outright winner of the election," he said.

Mbowela said the coalition could be said to have poked a hole in the latest poll which shows incumbent President Mutharika winning the election with 60 percent of total votes.

"The figures that people were quoting could make sense or were valid before the coalition that we are talking about. I think about a month or so ago, the president was indeed enjoying popular support. But soon after one of the aspirants who is the former president was stopped from contesting by the Malawi Electoral Commission and now looking at this coalition, I think those statistics have been greatly compromised. I think no one can now safely say with a lot of confidence that the president is going to enjoy that kind of support in terms of winning the elections of 60 percent," Mbowela pointed out.

He said the opposition coalition could undermine the expected strong performance of the ruling party.

"The coalition that we are talking about is quite massive and no one knows really what the outcome of the election would be like. You would agree with me that these two opposition parties have great support in many areas and coming together significantly improves their chances in the general election," he said.

Mbowela said the coalition risks implosion if it wins the elections since the two parties are ideologically different.

"It is very interesting and maybe we can even say that the future is not as bright as it looks now. The sharing of power indeed is one of the aspects that would also I think bring this coalition to a very unpredictable end. Why? Because you see the two parties that we are talking about have got two different policies. The other one is conservative and the other I liberal and also despite the differences in terms of political ideologies, the two parties have been enemies so to speak. And they have been operating like cats and dogs since the dawn of democratic dispensation. So, the sharing of power in this case is something that is going to reopen the kind of fighting and suspicion that has been there between the two parties," Mbowela noted.

He said the leaders of the two opposition parties could try to outdo each other if their coalition wrestles power away from incumbent President Mutharika.

"For sure, one can speculate here that the former President Bakili Muluzi would want to have a bigger part in this coalition, but that could bring other troubles as the presidential candidate of the MCP John Tembo would be the president," he said.

The Malawi Electoral Commission barred Muluzi from participating in the May 19 election and future elections after he served two consecutive terms as Malawi's president from 1994 to 2004 before reluctantly handing over to his handpicked successor Bingu Wa Mutharika. Muluzi tried unsuccessfully to amend the constitution for him to run for a third term.

Political observers say the alliance between Muluzi's United Democratic Front and Tembo's Malawi Congress Party poses a challenge to incumbent President Mutharika, who is heavily tipped to win the presidential vote against the background of an economic boom during his four-year rule.

Former President Muluzi vowed to continue to challenge his ban after Malawi's constitutional court threw out his application challenging an electoral commission decision to bar him from contesting the presidential election.