In Malawi, a high court has ruled that President Bingu Wa Mutharika cannot dismiss Vice President Cassim Chilumpha. This contrasts the government’s view that the vice president’s absence during cabinet meetings meant he had resigned his position in government. The court also said that Vice President Chilumpha can only be removed from office after being indicted and that the process of impeachment is followed to remove him in Parliament.
Fahad Assani is the lead attorney for Vice President Cassim Chilumpha. He said the court’s ruling made it clear that President Bingu Wa Mutharika did not have the power to sack Chilumpha.
“The constitutional court which comprises three judges of the high court did hold that the president and our constitution does not have power to construe that the vice president had constructively resigned essentially…and that since he does not have such powers to remove or dismiss the vice president, he cannot at the same time be allowed to construe the way he construed,” he said.
Assani said the courts decision had vindicated Vice President Cassim Chilumpha.
“On his part it’s just a vindication of the argument that he had always made that the president must have been wrongly advised on these matters in which he was made to write a letter accepting what he has actually been universally termed constructive resignation in Malawi., and since he’s been exonerated, he is actually at peace so to speak because he knows that the truth has finally prevailed,” Assani noted.
He said the vice president’s defense team, would know what to do when the government appeals against the court’s ruling.
“We are yet to see how things would be unfolding because for the first time since that time in February in which the president construed that there is no vice president in Malawi, his cabinet naming does not include Dr. Chilumpha as his vice president. Now for the first time the president… wished the vice president very good during Christmas and New Year. So I suppose the president is now realizing that indeed we have a vice president in this country,” he said.
Assani said the vice president’s defense team is waiting for a court’s ruling to determine whether the vice president can seek medical treatment abroad.
“The issues about his movement are related to the treason case which is still pending in the court and now what has happened is that we are still to wait for a decision of the high court on whether he could travel to the United Kingdom for his medical treatment. At the same time, we were hoping that the treason matter would start off anytime,” he said.