Zambia's incumbent President Rupiah Banda
Zambia's incumbent President Rupiah Banda

Former Zambian Defense Minister George Mpombo says it would be suicidal if the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) adopts President Rupiah Banda as its candidate in the 2011 general elections. 

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Banda won a special by-election in 2008 to finish the term of the late President Levy Mwanawasa.  

He has already said he will heed the calls of MMD supporters to contest the 2011 vote. 

Former Defense Minister Mpombo said Mr. Banda has failed to improve the ruling party?s political fortunes.

"I want to confirm that indeed if MMD adopted Mr. Banda it would amount to what I may call political Armageddon. We?re gonna be wiped out like no body?s bussines,? he said.

He accused President Banda of lacking what it would take for the ruling MMD to win the 2011 election.

?The man hasn?t got what it takes to be president; the man has no leadership qualities; the country is drifting leaderless into the future,? Mpombo said.

But Information Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said President Banda deserves to lead the ruling party because of his experience.

?Any incumbent president has a given amount of constituency that is much, much greater than a candidate who is coming in without a presidential experience. And this particular president has experience in the affairs of the state, and as MMD we believe that is a good prospect for us to win the election,? Shikapwasha said.

Mpombo accused President Banda of trying to manipulate the MMD constitution so as to get an automatic nomination.

?Our constitution is very, very clear. Every five years you have to go to the convention where you elect the entire leadership of the party to renew that mandate. And also it is illegal because right now he (Banda) is acting president. We do not send an acting president to the general election; you send the elected president of the party to the election,? Mpombo said.

Shikapwasha said MMD national executive committee has yet to decide whether or not to adopt President Banda as the party?s candidate without going to general convention next year.

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?Mr. Mpombo is reacting to a number of people who have expressed their democratic opinion how they look at it and how they feel this should be done. The national executive body, which is the executive body of the party has not sat or decided on the matter,? Shikapwasha said.

Mpombo also said President Banda should not represent the MMD in the 2011 election because Mr. Banda?s recent conduct is a severe setback to Zambia?s fight against corruption.

He criticized President Banda for organizing rallies to celebrate the recent acquittal of former President Frederick Chiluba on corruption charges.

But Shikapwasha said Zambia enjoys an independent judiciary, and that President Banda had no influence in the court?s acquittal of former President Chiluba.

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