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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jul 15, 2008

      Muluzi in Malawi re-election bid


      Lawyers for former Malawian leader Bakili Muluzi are due in court to argue that he should be able to seek re-election as president next year. Mr Muluzi wants to stand in the elections against President Bingu wa Mutharika, his chosen successor with whom he has subsequently fallen out.

      The constitution says a president cannot run again if he has served for two consecutive five-year terms.

      Mr Muluzi has served two terms as head of state - from 1994 to 2004.

      His lawyers argue that the constitution allows him to seek re-election after a gap of for example five years - as Mr Muluzi has done - after the two consecutive five-year terms.


      "We are ready to fight," said one of his lawyers, Jai Banda.

      He is being challenged in his bid by a member of his own party, James Phiri.

      Mr Phiri's lawyer Christopher Chiphwanya said that it would be against the spirit of the constitution.

      "It will be a defeat for democracy to allow Dr Muluzi to stand again as that will encourage life-presidency which Malawians rejected already," he said.

      Mr Muluzi ended Hastings Banda's 30-year rule in 1994, winning the country's first multi-party elections.


      Correspondents say his attempted come back is motivated by personal differences with President Mutharika.

      Mr Muluzi has publicly vowed to unseat President Mutharika.

      "I cannot fail to deflate a tyre I personally inflated," he said, implying that he was solely responsible for making Mr Mutharika president.

      In May, Mr Muluzi was arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Mutharika's government.

      The month before, Mr Muluzi won a contest to be named the presidential candidate of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in next year's polls.

      President Mutharika was elected as the UDF candidate in 2004 but soon afterwards fell out with Mr Muluzi and formed his own party.

      He said his former political associates were opposed to his anti-corruption drive.

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