"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, March 23, 2009

Bakili Muluzi's grounds for candidacy appeal unfounded

BLANTYRE (AFP) — Malawi's former president Bakili Muluzi has filed a lawsuit challenging the country's election commission's decision to bar him from running again in May elections, his lawyers said on Monday.

"I am eligible to stand as a presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections, after a lapse of one term in office when another person occupied the office of the president," Muluzi wrote in an affidavit seen by AFP.

His lawyer Jai Banda said the ex-president wants the court to declare him eligible to run again. Muluzi headed the impoverished southern African nation from 1994 to 2004.

"I only served for two consecutive terms and I was thereafter succeeded by the incumbent State President Bingu wa Mutharika," he said in the affidavit.

In the country's first multi-party poll in 1994, Muluzi defeated dictator Kamuzu Banda, who ruled Malawi with an iron fist for three decades.

The late Banda declared himself life president at the height of his rule, which was characterised by gross human rights abuses.

For his part, Muluzi claims the commission's rejection of his candidacy "is a breach of political rights of my party and myself as both the country's constitution and that of the UDF (United Democratric Front) are clear that I am eligible to stand."

The axing, he said, was also "aimed at disfranchising" the members of the former ruling UDF, of which Muluzi remains its influential chief and financier.

In disqualifying Muluzi, the commission said he has already served the two-term limit.

His political standing has also been hit by corruption allegations, after he was charged in February with 86 counts of graft over the alleged theft of 12 million dollars in aid money.

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