Mutharika announces alliance with Atupele’s UDF

Malawian president Peter Mutharika, who leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on Tuesday announced an alliance with the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) party, led by Atupele Muluzi, as the country gears up for what are expected to be tightly contested fresh elections. 

 Mutharika and Muluzi exchanged party regalia – symbolising their pact – with supporters chanting in the background. 

“The alliance comes at the time when some politicians are threatening the peace and stability which this country has enjoyed for many years. Both DPP and UDF share a common belief that peace, stability and unity are a prerequisite for Malawi’s development. We do not believe in violence,” reads part of the  joint communiqué published by Nyasa Times.

“We cannot claim to be working in the interest of the people of Malawi if we cannot dialogue, unite and agree on matters of national interests. Our political union is born out of a spirit of unity and our caring to unite on matters that affect Malawians. Malawi cannot develop if we do not exercise this spirit of unity.”

Atupele and Mutharika announcing their alliance

On Monday, Malawi parliament had passed the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Amendment Bill which sets May 19 as the date for the fresh 2020 presidential elections and provides for the holding a run-off election 30 days later if no candidate gets 50% plus one of the votes cast.

The bills follow the constitutional court order for the house to make provisions for the holding of run-off elections since the 50 % plus one electoral system will be used in the elections.

Earlier this month, the constitutional court dismissed a bid by the Malawi Electoral Commission and Mutharika to suspend the ruling that overturned the 2019 election results until an appeal filed by the president was heard by the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA). 

The court also rejected the electoral commission’s argument that another election would be costly for the impoverished country, as well as Mutharika’s argument that there would be chaos if a fresh vote produced a different victor and his appeal at the SCA then succeeded, meaning Malawi would have two presidents. 

The constitutional court said it was highly unlikely that the new vote would take place before the SCA made its determination.