President of opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) Atupele Muluzi has thrown his full weight behind an anti-government demonstration slated for January which is being championed by consumer rights activist John Kapito.

“We are fully in support of the demonstration because it is a means of giving space to citizens to express their views,” said Muluzi in an exclusive interview yesterday.

According to the UDF leader, demonstrating is an important democratic tool and that people who want to take their grievances to the streets should be given space to do so and that the party sees sense in the excercise.

He said UDF sees taking economic hardship to streets as a manifestation of a constitutional right that is an entitlement of every citizen.

He asked the authorities and the organisers to make the demonstrations both lawful and peaceful.

“We ask the authorities and those taking part to make sure the set demonstrations are done peacefully. If citizens want to express themselves, we are a democratic country and should allow the people to express themselves and that explains why we’re in support of it.”

On whether UDF’s stand does not bring a conflict to the party’s partnership with government in Parliament, Muluzi said his party is an independent political grouping and that it is not in any way in partnership with any political party.

Said Muluzi: “UDF is an independent political grouping and as far as we are concerned, there has never been any arrangement for partnership with any political party. There is no formal agreement UDF made with any political grouping.”

Political analyst Henry Chingaipe said UDF has its own political ideologies and that its stance on the demonstration shows that the party wants to be identified as autonomous.

“The relationship between UDF and the PP-led government was very loose and not consolidated. It was a relationship more of goodwill, but not based on ideologies and hence their coming out standing against the government,” he said.

Chancellor College political analyst Mustapha Hussein said the decision undertaken by UDF shows that the party wants to pursue its own interests as an independent political party.

Said Hussein: “Protesting is a constitutional right of every citizen, but I think UDF wants to show that it is autonomous and that it has its own agenda. One would expect UDF to stand with the government in the protests, but the party definitely wants to show that it is a separate entity from the government.”

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