Malawi's Law Society is asking the country's Electoral
Commission to determine the eligibility of Ex-President Bakili Muluzi ahead of
next year's general elections. The commission has so far declined to decisively
deal with the former president's candidacy, claiming it would make its decision
when nomination papers are filed in January. But the Law Society contends that the electoral body's refusal or
delay in determining the former president's eligibility to contest as the
presidential candidate for the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) could
plunge the country into crisis.
has already served two consecutive terms as Malawi's president, but his
supporters say he is qualified to contest next year's elections. The UDF also
accused the law society of being biased and partisan. Samuel Tembenu is the
president of Malawi's Law Society. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the
commercial capital, Blantyre that the group's action is in the nation's
rationale is simple, what we want is to have clean elections next year. From
what has been happening in this country and the debate that has been going on,
it is very clear that Dr. Muluzi wants to stand again. Now, the question of his
eligibility is still hanging in the air because we have two views. Others say
he is barred from standing again, but others think he can still come back. So,
we are saying that it is about time that question is determined now rather than
later so that come 2009, the focus would be on the electoral process, and not
on court injunction," Tembenu noted.
described as untoward the opposition UDF accusation leveled against the law
I think we are not biased because we have tried to be as objective as possible
in that statement, and all we are trying to do is to help them. But instead of
running around in 2009 looking for candidates in the event that the electoral
commission says no you cannot come back, they should rather know their stand
now. Likewise in the event that the commission says yes you are eligible and
somebody challenges you… all we are trying to do is to avoid chaos that would
ensue in the event that the electoral commission makes a decision one way or
the other. But it not true that we are being partisan," he said.
said the Law Society has been neutral in its dealings with the country
including internal politics.
a society we have not taken a stand on this issue because we know that our
members belong to various parties, and they are representing the parties that
are involved as well. So, we have left it to our members to argue their cases
in their respective cases; those who are for would argue for Muluzi those who
are not would argue their side. As a society, we have not taken any side and it
is not our intention to take a stand on that issue," Tembenu pointed out.
said the time for the electoral commission to take a decision on the former
president's eligibility is now.
want them to act as soon as possible, and if possible before the end of the
year. We hope so, but we couldn't tell how soon they (electoral commission)
would act. But I think there is still hope and we expect that they will act
immediately," he said.