Malawian president reveals ambitions for re-election

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has disclosed that he would seek re-election in the country's 2009 presidential elections on his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket.

"Let me clear the mist. I will contest in the 2009 elections," Mutharika told a press conference here Saturday upon his arrival from a private visit in Australia.

Malawians are expected to elect the country's next president and legislators in mid 2009 when the five-year term of the current president and parliament expires.

The 72-year-old was the anointed successor of the country's former leader Bakili Muluzi. Mutharika won the presidency in May 2004 on Muluzi's United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket.

Mutharika later in February 2005 dumped the UDF and set up his DPP, a development that automatically relegated the UDF into opposition in the country's parliament.

Mutharika's ambitions to seek re-election in 2009 have been made alive after the Malawi Constitutional Court cleared him of any imminent impeachment threat in parliament.

The court ruled last Friday evening that the impeachment procedures which the country's parliament adopted in October 2005 to remove Mutharika from power were null and void and were not in conformity with principles of natural justice provided for in the Malawi Constitution.

The court's three judge panel observed that it was unjust for the country's parliament alone to charge, try and render a verdict on the accused president or vice president.

The court also noted that the adopted impeachment procedures had various loopholes, which would render any impeachment of a sitting president unjust and unfair.

The country's opposition parties have not yet reacted to the court's ruling but a lawyer representing them in the case, Kalekeni Kaphale, told journalists he would ask his clients to rework on the procedures.

The issue came before the court in October last year when Mutharika argued against the adopted impeachment procedures and referred the matter to the constitutional court.

The Malawi constitution empowers the country's head of state to refer any constitutional dispute to the Constitutional Court for its interpretation and guidance.

Malawi's opposition dominated parliament adopted the procedures and immediately the actual impeachment process of President Mutharika in October last year but the constitutional court halted the process until it made a ruling on the matter.

Opposition parties, led by the UDF party, have openly stated their intention to remove Mutharika from office.

Source: Xinhua

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