"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

search antimuluzi.blogspot.com

Monday, October 17, 2005

Malawi MPs eye law to impeach president, donor wary-Reuters

BLANTYRE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Opponents of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika will try to push through draft legislation this week they hope will lead to his impeachment, despite Western warnings this could slow the flow of food aid. Wa Mutharika's former allies in the United Democratic Front have made a series of public attacks on the president, accusing him of violating the constitution and misusing state funds. They want to impeach him, but while the constitution allows a presidential impeachment, it does not set out how to do it. Parliament, where no party has a majority, is due to debate new legislation governing impeachment procedures from Tuesday. The high commissioner of Britain, Malawi's biggest bilateral aid donor, said last week that opposition attempts to impeach wa Mutharika had sparked a political crisis that was distracting the government and could make it hard to get aid to millions of hungry Malawians. The stakes are high as Malawi is trying to win forgiveness for debts of over $2 billion and grappling with food shortages caused by drought and AIDS that have left 5 million people -- nearly half the population -- in need of urgent food aid. "It is unfortunate that the opposition will not be deterred by the donor threats, because the donor interests and (those) of the opposition are different," University of Malawi politics lecturer Boniface Dulani told Reuters. "If they went ahead to stop aid, that would only strengthen the opposition's resolve to impeach Mutharika," he said. Dulani doubted if the opposition could amass the two-thirds majority needed to impeach wa Mutharika despite a series of defections that have hit his administration. But analysts say wa Mutharika's opponents could probably muster the simple majority required to pass the new legislation, which would govern parliamentary procedure for impeachments. Social Development Minister Clement Chiwaya dealt a further blow to wa Mutharika's administration when he resigned publicly late on Sunday at an opposition rally in the UDF stronghold of Mangochi, some 260 km (160 miles) southeast of Blantyre. "I cannot continue with a collapsing government," Chiwaya told Reuters on Monday. FORMER ALLIES The wave of opposition to wa Mutharika has its roots in his own zealous fight against corruption, which has earned praise from foreign donors but lost him support among powerful veterans of the administration of his predecessor and erstwhile champion Bakili Muluzi. Some observers worry that legislation is being tailored to attack wa Mutharika, who has denied the accusations against him. "It is not wrong for the opposition to table the impeachment procedures because the constitution does not provide for them, what is wrong is the way everything is targeted at Mutharika," said politics lecturer Mustapha Hussein. The UDF, under whose banner wa Mutharika took office last year, accuses him of violating the constitution and misusing state funds to buy a car and to pay for his grandchildren's education. In the last parliamentary sitting legislators listed 11 reasons to indict the president, including the claim that he broke the law when he decided to quit the UDF and form another party earlier this year.

No comments: