Country Report Zambia April 2010

The political scene: Mr Sata remains eligible to stand for president

Earlier this year the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), which was created to debate amendments to the constitution, endorsed a clause requiring all presidential candidates to hold a degree from a recognised university (March 2010, The political scene). The NCC's decision met with strong criticism from the opposition and the urban population, which perceived it as a direct attempt to exclude Mr Sata from the presidential election in order to cement Mr Banda's electoral prospects. The clause also led to concern about whether the PF-UPND alliance would survive if Mr Sata were no longer able to stand for president. However, recent developments appear to have put these concerns to rest. In late February Mr Sata told two private radio stations that he holds two degrees-one in political science from the University of London, and the other in arts and history from an American university-and an honorary degree from a Russian university. The MMD has changed its tactics in response to this-in March the former president, Frederick Chiluba, claimed that Mr Sata had a criminal record. Attempts at political point-scoring of this kind are not unusual in the run-up to an election. However, they appear to be far more pervasive this time round-reflecting expectations that the 2011 elections will be very closely contested-and are likely to distract the president and members of parliament from the task of governing the country

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