After weeks of a simmering dispute with party leaders, in particular former President Bakili Muluzi, who still heads the ruling United Democratic Front, President Mutharika has walked out.

Reports from Malawi say Mr. Mutharika's Cabinet is expected to remain loyal to him, and many members of parliament will do the same. It is expected that this group will launch a new party in the coming weeks.

Mr. Mutharika's action follows a Cabinet reorganization, in which he dismissed two ministers who had previously served in Mr. Muluzi's government.

Even so, the situation is unprecedented in Malawi, and it remains unclear how these developments will impact Mr. Mutharika's ability to govern. Some observers have warned the current turmoil could lead to political instability.

Last month, Mr. Mutharika said that Mr. Muluzi is trying to, in his words, run the country by remote control, and that he is not the puppet, he says, the former president expected him to be. Mr. Muluzi served two terms, and when his efforts to amend the constitution to allow him three terms failed, he hand-picked Mr. Mutharika to be his successor.

Mr. Mutharika fell out with Mr. Muluzi and other senior party officials when he launched a major anti-corruption drive after coming to power last May. He said he took charge of an administration that was, in his words, infested with men and women who thrived on corruption, and vowed to track down the guilty.

Several senior government officials have been arrested, including former Finance Minister Friday Jombe. They are expected to be charged with embezzling $4 million in state funds.