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UDF’s Atupele Muluzi welcomes leadership challenge

United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi has said he would “welcome” a challenge to his leadership when the opportunity arises mid this year at the party’s elective convention after  Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda has  declared an intention to do so.

Atupele Muluzi: Appointed a committee to organise UDF’s national convention ahead of next year’s tripartite elections

Muluzi said he has no idea whether there will be one or many contenders for UDF presidency but said that it is ultimately a matter for members of UDF to decide their preferred leader.

“I would welcome any challenge, there’s no problem there at all,” he briefly commented.

UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said the party will handle the candidacy of any potential candidacy ‘fairly’.

“Although the party is yet to start receiving nominations papers for candidates, the reports that there are some members who are aspiring to compete for presidency at the forthcoming National Conference is good the UDF party,” Ndanga told Nyasa Times in an interview.

“We need these positions to be competitive provide a wider choice for delegate to choose good leaders,” Ndanga added.

He continued: “Infact it should not be just about Honourable Banda, let others join the race as well. UDF championed democracy in the country and we need to lead as an example.”

Ndanga said UDF will do all it takes to make sure a credible and fair process so that at the end of the elective National Conference the party should be “more united and strong” in readiness for the 2019 elections.

Muluzi recently appointed a committee to organise the party’s national conference ahead of next year’s tripartite elections.

The committee will be chaired by Charles Kachikuwo who will be deputised by Mangochi South legislator, Lilian Patel. Other members of the committee are Carton Sichinga, Clement Chiwaya, who is also Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Lance Mbewe, Godfrey Chapola and Clement Stambuli.

Chancellor College-based political analyst Mustafa Hussein has since welcomed the development in UDF, saying the convention will provide an opportunity to clarify major concerns of some of the party’s members.

“People have great expectation of UDF because it is a mother party. It needs to clarify whether the party will stand on its own or will have an alliance with the ruling DPP [Democratic Progressive Party],” he said.

Atupele, who heads the UDF, is currently Minister of Health in the DPP-led government.

Since the 2014 elections, UDF has been in a parliamentary relationship with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) when President Peter Mutharika drafted into his first Cabinet the UDF leader.

As a way of solidifying their working relationship, Muluzi’s party further moved from the opposition to government benches in the 193-member National Assembly.

Only Lucius Banda, then UDF leader in Parliament, defied the party’s decision.

According to UDF spokesperson, the party has never discussed or indicated that it would contest the 2019 polls in partnership with DPP.

Ndanga also said the party has always been guided by its constitution on the issue.

He said the convention agenda will be guided by article 10 (h) of the party constitution which says that the party shall hold at least one national conference every six years to receive and consider the president’s, secretary general’s report, treasurer general’s report and to elect members of NEC and other office bearers of the party.

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