LUSAKA — Former Zambian President Rupiah Banda has formally endorsed a candidate of the governing Patriotic Front (PF) in this month’s presidential election after his bid to make a political comeback failed, a statement released by his office said yesterday.
Banda, who had wanted to contest the January 20 presidential election on the ticket of the biggest opposition party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), but failed when a court blocked him, said he decided to back Edgar Lungu in the election because the country needed stability and continuity.
“As you may know, until very recently I stood as a candidate. I had been called back and nominated by my party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, to stand for election on the party’s ticket. However, the courts have since decided against the party’s nomination, and as such it is a decision that we must all respect, “ he said.
“When I was first approached to respond to the calls for my comeback, I had to think long and hard about why I would commit myself to such an undertaking. The answer then, and the answer now, is that I would do whatever I thought was best for our country,”he added.
Banda, who ruled Zambia from August 2008 to September 2011, while acknowledging that his failure to make a political comeback has been disappointing, said the January 20 election was not about arrogance or personal ambitions but to push for the interests of the country, adding that there is need for voters to make a wise decision when voting.
“We need stability and continuity, not revolution. We must gather behind a new leader who has shown the qualities of humility, commitment and unity. We must set aside past grievances, and accept and trust one another in order to heal and work together to make Zambia the best it can be,” he added.
The 77-year-old Banda said the governing party candidate possesses leadership qualities to take the country to greater heights, adding that the governing party candidate has promised to protect the interests of the MMD.
However, Banda’s decision to support Lungu in the forthcoming election has been criticised by members of the former ruling party who have accused him of betrayal.
Zambia will hold a presidential election on January 20 necessitated by the death of President Michael Sata on October 28 last year. Eleven presidential candidates are participating in the election. —Xinhua.