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Malawi parliament suspended indefinitely as political woes intensify
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08:30, July 25, 2007

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Malawi parliament was on Tuesday suspended indefinitely after the government and opposition sides failed to agree on how the house should proceed thus throwing the government's 2007/08 budget into quandary.

The house resumed its deliberations on Monday after another two week suspension that was necessitated by political differences between the government and the majority opposition.

"Honourable members in view of these developments I adjourn the house indefinitely," Parliament Second Deputy Speaker Jones Chingola ruled before walking out as the house became chaotic and uncontrollable.

The standoff between the opposition and government in the country's parliament has come about following the June 15 Supreme Court of Appeal ruling on Section 65 of the country's constitution.

The section states that legislators who quit their parties which sponsored them into parliament and joined other parties also represented in the house should be deemed to have crossed the floor and therefore lose their seats.

However, the government has been arguing that the current sitting of parliament was only dedicated to debating and approving the 1.2 billion U.S. dollar government budget that was presented before the house on June 29.

Chingola was therefore forced to indefinitely suspend the house after a government proposition of debating the budget only was rejected by 12 votes through a roll-call vote.

A total of 83 legislators voted against the government proposition, 71 members supported it while three members abstained themselves from taking sides. Twenty-one legislators were absent.

Following the rejection of the proposition, Leader of government side, Chimunthu Banda, therefore asked Chingola to completely suspend parliament as the government did not have any other business to transact.

Tuesday's suspension of the country's parliament comes barely two days after President Bingu Wa Mutharika threatened to dissolve it and call for the country's early presidential and parliamentary elections if current political standoff in parliament continued.

"I will call for early general elections if this childish behavior continues in parliament," an irate Mutharika told a public meeting that he addressed on Sunday in the capital, Lilongwe.

The political deadlock in the country's 193 member opposition strong parliament is threatening adoption of the 2007/08 government budget.

The house only allowed the government to spend about 81 million dollars for the month of July and it is yet to be seen what the government would do once the one month expenditure expires on July 31.

Source: Xinhua

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