Zambia’s ruling party mends rift to make Lungu its presidential candidate

LUSAKA – Zambia’s ruling party has settled on Defence Minister Edgar Lungu as its presidential candidate, it emerged on Saturday, ending months of in-fighting that had threatened its chances at a Jan. 20 election.

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After President Michael Sata died in October, his Patriotic Front (PF) was rocked by a leadership battle between Lungu and a faction led by the acting president, Guy Scott, who is himself ineligible to run.

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The power struggle was seen as potentially clearing the way for an opposition candidate to win, creating political uncertainty in Africa’s second-largest copper producer.

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“We are going in full force as one political party now,” Lungu told reporters after filing his nomination papers on Saturday, in the presence of Scott, showing the rift had been healed.

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Scott, who was Sata’s vice president, is ineligible to run as his parents were born abroad. This week, a majority of cabinet members called on Scott to resign, accusing him of working against the interests of the party by trying to promote his own candidate, a demand he rejected.

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The race for the presidency is now clearly between Lungu, a lawyer who is seen as having strong grassroots support, and economist Hakainde Hichilema who leads a loose alliance of opposition members of parliament.

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The Post Newspapers has finally confirmed a report published by Zambia Reports on November 24 quoting sources in the Zambia Army that Acting President Guy Scott had been given an ultimatum to sanitize the ruling party or cede power.

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By then, the Army were ready to take power five days after the ultimatum was issued but following announcements that the ruling Patriotic Front was to elect its candidate at the General Conference, the soldiers stepped back.

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When the in-fighting in the PF continued and threatened the party to be without a candidate after two factions emerged from the General Conference, the soldiers stepped back.

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According to sources, senior military personnel from across service lines have been monitoring the situation and were unsettled that PF may not have a candidate filing – a situation they feared will trigger unrest.

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The Post, who owner Fred M’membe is accused of belonging to the Cartel that has had control of state power, is reporting in its Sunday edition of December 21 that the reconciliation between the Edgar Lungu camp and that of Guy Scott was as a result of pressure from defence chiefs.

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According to the article, defence chiefs also asked Miles Sampa to withdraw from the Patriotic Front race. After Zambia Reports published two articles in relations to activities of army, a group of Zambians launched a campaign claiming the publications were false

\r\nSource: New feed