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LUSAKA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — Zambia’s former ruling the United National Independence Party (UNIP) will participate in the forth-coming presidential by-elections with Tilyenji Kaunda as its candidate, The Post reported Tuesday.

It quoted UNIP deputy secretary general Reverend Alfred Bandaas saying that the party is ready to offer an alternative to the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) government.

He urged UNIP members not to listen to Copperbelt Provincial party information and publicity secretary Brian Chishimba who said UNIP was not ready for a presidential by-election.

He said the party would again meet soon to look at campaign strategies and how to defeat other political parties participating in the race.

Banda said Zambians are aware that only UNIP is the answer to the numerous problems they are currently facing.

“You know this is a matter of urgency, considering the time factor. As you know the objectives of any political party is to form government, and therefore our chances of forming the next government are as good as other parties. But I can assure you that UNIP under the presidency of Comrade Tilyenji Kaunda will participate in the coming presidential by-elections,” Banda said.

Asked on Chishimba’s statement that UNIP would not participate in the by-election because of the unresolved leadership differences in the party, Banda said Chishimba was representing a much lower organ of the party and that only the central committee had the final authority.

But UNIP National Revival Forum (NRF) chairman Malimba Masheke said his group would not support Tilyenji as the party’s candidate.

He expressed disappointment that his group was not consulted incoming up with a candidate for UNIP.

“If they can decide without consulting us, then they don’t need us. If they can decide without talking to us, then they don’t need us. If they don’t need us in decisions, then they don’t need us in support,” he said.

He said if the Tilyenji-led group considered the forum as part of UNIP, they would have invited them to the meeting that endorsed Tilyenji as the presidential candidate in the forth-coming elections.

Masheke said the forum would soon meet to discuss the way forward.

The Revival Forum has been challenging the leadership of Tilyenji, accusing him of destroying the former ruling party’s political muscle.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang