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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Pac to fight Muluzi comeback

MIKE CHIPALASA - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - 13:42:31

The Public Affairs Committee (Pac), a faith-based organization that
advocates for good governance, says it still maintains that the
Republican Constitution does not allow a former president to bounce
back, saying it is now waiting for the resumption of the James PhiriÕs
case to join it as friends of the court. Pac chairperson Boniface
Tamani said this on Wednesday when asked on the progress his
organization was making in its legal challenge launched last year
against MuluziÕs ambition to return to power. "Pac cannot leave this
case like that. We will take it to the highest level. We have already
expressed our position, through a press statement, and I think nobody
should bounce back for the good of the country, we donÕt believe that
Muluzi can bounce back. "We cannot have one man only ruling this
country as if he is the only intelligent person. We donÕt want to go
back the one party era," said Tamani. James Phiri, a self-acclaimed UDF
presidential hopeful, has sued former president Bakili Muluzi on his
comeback bid, arguing the Republican constitution under section 83 (3)
does not allow him after he already served his maximum two consecutive
terms in office. The section bars former presidents from bouncing back
after serving two five-year consecutive terms, and this view has been
supported by the Special Law Commission which was tasked to review the
constitution in 2005 and whose report is at cabinet level for scrutiny
before it is presented before parliament for ratification. "We will
wait for the case to take off and join it as friends of the court.
Normally, courts ask interested individuals or institutions to join a
case as friends of the court so when that time comes, we will file an
application to be part of it. "We have already formed a legal opinion,
after consulting out lawyers, that the [Republican] constitution does
not allow a former president to bounce back," said Pac chairman
Boniface Tamani in a telephone interview on Wednesday. The Pac chairman
revealed that his organization was an interested party to the case
because its outcome would mean a lot to the future of Malawi and
democracy. Asked on whether the Pac board had met to discuss the matter
especially on when they would be joining the case, Tamani said: "No
decision has been made yet by the board but I would not be surprised if
the board decides to join the case. When we meet again we will discuss
this issue." Phiri, only identified as a businessman, is asking the
court to declare that Muluzi---who is also UDFÕs national chairman---is
not eligible to stand as presidential candidate despite the partyÕs NEC
endorsement, claiming that the decision violates the partyÕs
constitution. "[I pray for an order] that the defendant is not
promoting, ensuring and protecting peopleÕs political rights as
enshrined in section 40 of the constitution by holding that he is
eligible and or that he is going to stand as a presidential candidate
in the 2009 general elections," says Phiri, who is represented by
lawyer Christopher Chiphwanya. Phiri claims MuluziÕs decision to stand
for the UDF has divided the party and that the UDF chairmanÕs campaign
is not welcome "by many members" in the party. "According to UDFÕs
constitution and convention, it is only those persons that qualify to
presidential candidates under the Malawi Constitution that also qualify
to be presidential candidates under the party ticket. "Muluzi served as
president from 1994-2004. Under the [Republican] Constitution he is
disqualified to run for the office [and] since he is disqualified under
the Constitution he is equally disqualified to be UDFÕs presidential
candidate for 2009," argues Phiri. He further argues that the UDF NEC
has supported MuluziÕs stand despite some party members not endorsing
his unilateral move. "Unless restrained by the order of this court,
[Muluzi] will continue campaigning and run for the said post at the
party [party] convention. Last year, Muluzi was reported to have
assembled a team of 24 local and international lawyers to research on
whether the countryÕs laws allowed him to stand again as presidential
candidate in 2009, after serving two consecutive terms in office from
1994-2004. Muluzi was a powerful politician under first Malawi
president Dr Kamuzu Banda, serving in several ministerial and party
positions including being secretary general of the Malawi Congress
Party. He then went into business, but resurfaced to lead the UDF in
1992 as a pressure group to agitate for political pluralism which
culminated into the holding of the national referendum and eventually
democratic elections two years after, in 1994

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