BLANTYRE (AFP) — Malawi's former president Bakili Muluzi cannot run in May elections this year, the nation's electoral body ruled late Friday, in a dramatic shake-up of the country's political landscape.
"Bakili Muluzi's nomination has been rejected by the Malawi Electoral Commission. The main reason is that he already served his two terms as president," chief elections officer David Bandawe told AFP.
The Malawi constitution, hammered out after the fall of dictator Kamuzu Banda who ruled for three decades with an iron fist, allows only two terms of five years each.
Muluzi had tried unsuccessfully to amend the constitution to allow him to stand for a third time, after ruling the impoverished southern African nation from 1994 to 2004.
He reluctantly tapped current President Binbgu wa Mutharika to run as his successor, only to see his protege turn against him and form his own party.
Muluzi had filed to run again in the May 19 polls, but Bandawe said the commission had rejected his nomination.
The commission, which is headed by supreme court of appeal judge Anastazia Msosa, met on Friday in the commercial capital Blantyre to assess Muluzi's candidacy, Bandawe said.
"After analysing all the issues, the commission made a decision to reject his nomination," Bandawe added.
Muluzi remains the influential national chairman of the former ruling United Democratic Front, but his political standing has been hit by corruption allegations.
He was charged in February with 86 counts of graft over the alleged theft of 12 million dollars in aid money.
His rejection leaves Mutharika facing off against opposition leader John Tembo of the Malawi Congress Party in the presidential race.