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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

UDF Hopes for Conflict in Malawi 12 November 2005 - 02:29:10

The UDF on Wednesday met donor representatives to discuss the current political impasse in Malawi and asked them to either let President Bingu wa Mutharika resign or allow the impeachment process to continue.
But Government has said it is Bakili Muluzi and Cassim Chilumpha that need to resign, arguing the two are “trying to bring conflict in the country.”
A leaked UDF confidential briefing paper presented to the donor troika composed of Germany Ambassador Albert Gisy, Gunnar Foreland the Norwegian Ambassador and South African High Commissioner Ms Ntshadi Tsheole, warns that if impeachment is not allowed, the country must brace itself for a very unstable and chaotic political environment orchestrated by Mutharika.
“It is imperative that the impeachment process is allowed to take its full process by the President and the Executive, the Judiciary, donors…Alternatively the President must resign voluntarily and seek a fresh mandate to legitimise his government,” reads the briefing paper.
UDF leader in Parliament George Mtafu led the UDF delegation of former Finance Minister Friday Jumbe and UDF Chief Whip Leonard Mangulama to the talks with the troika chaired by the Norwegian Ambassador Foreland .
“This is the second time we were meeting and the discussions were excellent…We discussed, among other things, the food shortages, Mutharika’s leadership style, his extravagance and the National Governing Council,” said Mtafu.
Deputy South African High Commissioner Hein Lotze also confirmed the meeting but could not disclose the contents of the discussion.
“I did not attend the meeting, but my high commissioner did, together with the Norwegian head and the German head…They will report to the rest of the community in due course,” Hein said.
On Friday, government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati described the UDF demands as shameful.
“It is Bakili Muluzi and Cassim Chilumpha that need to resign. Muluzi should resign from politics because he is trying to bring conflict in the country and the Vice President Chilumpha for his incompetence,” said Kaliati.
“Who is UDF to tell donors to force Bingu to resign? They had there time they should let Bingu rule now,” she said.
The issue of Mutharika’s alleged extravagance was tabled with the UDF citing the President’s decision to move into New State House as an example of spending.
Reports from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), said the brief, labelled Mutharika as someone who has an appetite for expenditure and this has been proven during his short stay as President. He decided to move into the 300-room State House while maintaining all other state residences against his pledge at inauguration.
In the briefing, the UDF feared that if the impeachment process is not allowed to continue, the President will use the might of the state machinery to destroy Malawi’s democratic gains and arrest political competitors in the name or zero-tolerance for corruption.
Mutharika, who quit UDF last year and formed his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has been lauded by the donor community for his fight against corruption but that has earned him enemies from UDF and in Parliament who claim that it is political persecution.
“All those he has called his enemies have suffered in one way or another and this includes journalists. Recently he has caused arrests of two MPs for moving the impeachment motion and strangely the President admitted at a press conference on November 7 on arrival from Scotland that the arrests are ‘Tit for Tat’,” UDF told the donors.
The diplomatic community a fortnight ago said they would find it difficult to work with a new government under a National Governing Council (NGC) if Mutharika was impeached.
This statement did not go down well with UDF and its opposition partner Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who accused donors of meddling in the internal affairs of the country.
In conclusion, the UDF justified the proposal to have an NGC, in the event that Mutharika is impeached.
“The NGC is a desire to ensure stability, peace and popular support, to have a broader spectrum of leadership …that would include elected leaders of political parties in Parliament which would oversee the six months transition,” UDF said.
According to it draft bill, the NGC— dubbed a nonstarter by various legal commentators—would also include key players in government to ensure continuity with government business.
The UDF called on the donors to support the elections after six months to ensure a smooth transition from the NGC.
“The present environment is very explosive and it will not be long before it explodes into a full-scale conflict if nothing is done,” says the brief

-Story by the Nation

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