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Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD)
Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD)
Leader Levy Mwanawasa
Ideology Center-left, social democracy, trade unionsm

The Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) is a political party in Zambia. Originally formed to oust the previous government, MMD controlled an absolute majority in parliament between 1991 and 2001, when its past leader, Frederick Chiluba was president of the country. Its election into power in 1991 ended the 27 year rule of the United National Independence Party of former president Kenneth Kaunda. It remains the dominant party within Zambian politics. It is a center-left political party.

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Party Genesis and the first election

In 1990, growing opposition to UNIP's monopoly on power, due in part to food shortages and a general economic decline led to the rise of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). Begun as a coalition party with the specific goal of ousting UNIP, MMD gradually assembled an increasingly impressive group of important Zambians, including prominent UNIP defectors and labour leaders.

During that same year, pushed by internal and international pressure, President Kaunda agreed to a referendum on the one-party state but, in the face of continued opposition, dropped the referendum and signed a constitutional amendment making Zambia a multi-party state.

Zambia's first multi-party elections for parliament and the presidency since the 1960s were held on October 31, 1991. MMD candidate Frederick Chiluba resoundingly carried the presidential election over Kenneth Kaunda with 81% of the vote. To add to the MMD landslide, in the parliamentary elections the MMD won 125 of the 150 elected seats and UNIP the remaining 25.

MMD and the second election

By the end of Chiluba's first term as president (1996), the MMD's commitment to political reform had faded in the face of re-election demands. MMD began to fall apart as a number of prominent politicians founded opposing parties.

Relying on the MMD's overwhelming majority in parliament, President Chiluba in May 1996 pushed through constitutional amendments that eliminated former President Kaunda and other prominent opposition leaders from the 1996 presidential elections. In the presidential and parliamentary elections held in November 1996, Chiluba was re-elected, and the MMD won 131 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly. Kaunda's UNIP party boycotted the parliamentary polls to protest the exclusion of its leader from the presidential race, alleging in addition, that the outcome of the election had been predetermined due to a faulty voter registration exercise.

Despite the UNIP boycott, the elections took place peacefully, and five presidential and more than 600 parliamentary candidates from 11 parties participated. Afterward, however, several opposition parties and non-governmental organizations declared the elections neither free nor fair. As President Chiluba began his second term in 1997, the opposition continued to reject the results of the election amid international efforts to encourage the MMD and the opposition to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Early in 2001, supporters of President Chiluba mounted a campaign to amend the constitution to enable Chiluba to seek a third term of office. Civil society, opposition parties, and many members of the ruling party exerted sufficient pressure on Chiluba to force him to back away from any attempt at a third term.

MMD and the third election

Presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections were held on December 27, 2001. Eleven parties contested the elections. The elections encountered numerous administrative problems with opposition parties alleging that serious irregularities occurred. Nevertheless, the MMD won 27.5 % of popular votes and 69 out of 159 parliamentary seats.

Its candidate for the presidential elections, Levy Mwanawasa, received 29.1 % of the vote and was declared the victor by a narrow margin. He was sworn into office on January 2, 2002.

Three parties submitted petitions to the High Court, challenging the election results. The petition remained under consideration by the courts in February 2003. Opposition parties won a majority of parliamentary seats in the December, 2001 election, but subsequent by-elections gave the ruling MMD a slim majority in Parliament.

2006 Presidential and Parliamentary elections

In the 28 September 2006 National Assembly election results the party won 74 out of 159 seats. Its presidential candidate, Levy Mwanawasa, won 43.0 % of the vote.

Presidential elections 2008

Following the sudden death of Levy Mwanawasa on the 19th of August 2008 due to a Stroke, early presidential elections were held in which the candidate for Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, Rupiah Banda, won with 40.09% of the national vote, Narrowly defeating Michael Sata of the patriotic front who received 38.13% of the national vote, by a margin of just 1.96%.

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