PF-UPND fight over Mpulungu bye-election

Hichilema with Maureen Mwanawasa

The Patriotic Front (PF) and The United Party for National Development (UPND) are embroiled in a bitter quarrel on which party should put forward a candidate for the Mpulungu parliamentary bye-election.
The two parties have an electoral alliance which basically stipulates that they should not compete in elections but should instead work together to defeat the ruling MMD.
The method of selecting candidates as bye-elections arise appear to be based on apparent popularity of a partner party depending on the immediate past election in the constituency where the election is due. If the PF won the last election or came second to the MMD in that particular constituency in the past election, then the PF must put a candidate and vice-versa regarding the UPND.
But in the Mpulungu bye-election, the UPND is accusing the PF of hijacking the candidature contending that it is in the northern region where they claim to be popular.
UPND Youth leader Joe Kalusa has condemned the PF for rushing to advertise for the seat. UPND Chairperson for Women Chinyama Sekeseke has said that the Pact has yet to decide the parliamentary candidate for the Mpulungu seat.
Last week, PF secretary general Wynter Kabinba was quoted in the media claiming that the UPND and PF have agreed to feature one candidate from PF. The UPND never said anything.
But according to the electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) results for 2006, the PF came out number three from MMD and the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which the UPND was in alliance with UNIP and FDD.
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema today held a press conference where many people expected him to address this issue. But he circled around it instead chose to talk about cooperation in the pact.
Even though some UPND members believe that Hihilema is still a contender for the pact presidency, insiders say that he has been deflated.
Sources say Hichilema has been bullied into submission to work under Sata by negative publicity from the Post newspaper. Hichilema cannot even talk publicly to lead the pact anymore.
But this has caused consternation in the UPND with most MPs now aligning themselves to the MMD.
“A massive fall-away is imminent in the pact once Sata is declared pact president” said one source close to Hichilema.
But another school of thought is that Hichilema is playing tricks with Sata. Sources say Hichilema is actually much more resolved to stand as president in 2011 than he was in 2006 and 2008.

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