Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is
expected to dissolve parliament Friday, setting the stage for the beginning of
official campaigning for the upcoming May 19 general election expected to be
hotly contested between incumbent President Mutharika and former President
Bakili Muluzi. However, the former president is constitutionally barred to
stand in the election after already serving two consecutive full terms as
Malawi's president from 1994 to 2004. But the opposition United Democratic
Front elected Muluzit to represent the party in the upcoming election, setting
the stage for a constitutional controversy.
Blessing Chissinga is a political
science professor at Malawi's Chancellor College in Zomba. He tells reporter
Peter Clottey that the political temperature in the country is intense ahead of
expectation is that the political parties once parliament is dissolved will go
into full gear campaigning for the up and coming general election. So, any
member of parliament will no longer be a member of parliament, but that gives
them the opportunity to now focus fully on the campaigning process," Chissinga
said there seems to be growing political tension among Malawians ahead of the
the atmosphere is very tense although last week we had an AU (African Union)
mission led by the former president of Mozambique Joachim Chissano and former
Ghanaian President John Kufuor trying to cool down the tension. But just a day
before the dissolution of parliament, the president had already started
campaigning and he did go on the offensive against the former President Muluzi.
And that has created a tensed atmosphere, which I am sure is going to
characterize the rest of the campaign period, giving that the stakes in this
election are quite high," he said.
said Malawians are anxiously waiting for the opportunity to exercise their
franchise in the upcoming election.
are really looking forward to the election day. I guess Malawians are kind of
tired with the political immaturity that has characterized the last four years.
So, basically talking to the ordinary man and woman in the street, I think they
are looking forward to May 19 hoping their vote will bring the current
political tension become calm after the election," Chissinga noted.
said the Independent Electoral Commission finds itself between a rock and a
hard place ahead of the May 19 election.
electoral commission as far as I can read the situation is in a very, very
difficult situation because of two main things. One is because they misread the
constitution because the constitution says that sitting MP's (members of
parliament) cannot run for office. So, the mistake they did was received the
presidential as well as the parliamentary nomination when parliament had not
yet been dissolved, so, that was against the constitution," he said.
the electoral commission is expected to soon determine the eligibility of
former President Muluzi whether he can stand in this year's election. Some
political analysts believe the decision could potentially plunge the country
into uncertainty and possible chaos.
said the electoral body has a herculean task in determining the eligibility of
the former president ahead of the general election.
(electoral commission) have a very difficult decision to make about the
eligibility of former President Muluzi. The constitution provides through
Section 83 Subsection Three that other presidents that have served two
consecutive terms should not bounce back. But the challenge here is that the
wording of the constitutional provision is vague and if you literally read it,
it allows presidents who have served two consecutive terms to bounce back. And
up to now, they haven't made a decision as to whether former President Muluzi
is eligible or not and all eyes are on the electoral commission," Chissinga