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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lest we forget, January 2003: Malawi members of parliament flee over Bakili Muluzi's third term row

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

Two opposition Members of

Parliament from the central tobacco heartland of Kasungu are in hiding
after angry militant youths of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF)
terrorised their homes.

Gwanda Chakuamba, leader of the
opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), told BBC News Online that
Sailes Gulule and Carrington Jimu had fled their homes after the youths
their compounds Wednesday night, threatening to kill them.

"I am in hiding but I
am worried about my family
" Sailes Gulule

The youths were angered by the
government's failure to change the constitution to enable President
Bakili Muluzi to stand for a third term in office.

A parliamentary bill to this effect was shelved earlier this week after widespread opposition.

The issue has divided Malawians
and when the debate started on Monday, police had to fire tear gas to
disperse some 4,000 people protesting against the bill.

Unless the constitution is changed, Mr Muluzi is due to step down in 2004.

Knives and stones

"It's shameful that the ruling party wants to take us
back to the dark days," Mr Chakuamba said.

Mr Gulule said he was trying to plead with Inspector General of Police Joseph Aironi to provide protection for the MPs.

Speaking from his undisclosed hiding place, Mr Gulule
said the militant youths came to the MPs' houses in an open van in the dead of night.

said sympathisers warned him to flee his house because the vehicle was full of people armed with machetes and stones.

"I was really scared," he said. "I am in hiding but I am worried about my family."

Both Mr Gulule and Mr Jimu were reported in the local media
as having rejected UDF attempts to persuade them to vote for the bill.

Food shortages

The two are the latest victims of the fall-out following
the shelving of the controversial third term bid.

Sacked Commerce and Industry
Minister Peter Kaleso and outspoken MP Green Lulilo Mwamondwe, from the
opposition Alliance for Democracy (Aford) had to seek refuge at the
British High Commission after being roughed up by UDF activists.

Two other dissident ruling UDF MPs, Joe Manduwa and
Jan Jaap Sonke, had to be rescued by police after openly saying they would thwart the bill.

Meanwhile, the British High Commission has expressed
disquiet over the holding of the extraordinary parliament session.

In a press release, the UK said
it was sad that at a time Malawi was reeling from severe food shortages
and the impact of HIV/Aids, government saw it wise to spend 7 million
Malawi kwacha ($80, 000) to hold the special debate.

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