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Court clears Zambia's Banda to run for re-election

posted 10 Aug 2011, 05:17 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 10 Aug 2011, 05:20 ]

A Zambian court has cleared President Rupiah Banda to contest the presidency and run for a second term, after the opposition tried to block his nomination over parentage.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (AUGUST 09, 2011) REUTERS -   A Zambian court on Tuesday (August 09) cleared President Rupiah Banda to take part in next month's elections after the main opposition party sought to have him blocked on grounds that he does not qualify to stand.

Zambia's main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party had asked the high court to block Banda from taking part in the elections, saying his father was not Zambian.

Zambia's constitution requires both parents of a presidential candidate to be Zambian by birth. The PF said Banda's father was born in what is now Malawi.

The national secretary of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party, Richard Kachingwe said Banda would file his nomination papers on Wednesday (August 10).

"My president qualifies. He is a bonafide Zambian, his parents are Zambian by both origin and descent but the court action has just been malicious to divert attention through some sort of psychological warfare by our friends but thank God we have won it," Kachingwe said after the ruling.

The PF had said Banda's nomination papers were only accepted as valid in 2008 because he said that his father and mother were born in Chipata in eastern Zambia.

Hundreds of supporters of PF candidate, Michael Sata gathered outside the courts singing and waving placards in support of the opposition party.

Security was tight as police were deployed to quell any likely confrontation between Banda and Sata's supporters after the ruling, which the opposition said it would contest at the supreme court level.

"The judge has misdirected herself in the ruling and the option that we have and which we are going to resort to as PF is to appeal this matter to the supreme court. We are not prepared to allow this matter you know to go to rest because there is a fundamental issue of the republican constitution, the fundamental law of this land which cannot be allowed to be abrogated by an individual," said Wynter Kabimba, PF's Secretary General.

Banda dissolved parliament last month and set September 20 as the date for elections that are likely to hand him and his MMD party another five years in power in Africa's biggest copper producer.