Malawi in succession crisis after Mutharika’s death


Bingu wa Mutharika


Blantyre. Former President of Malawi Bakili Muluzi and civil society organisations have separately called upon the Malawian Government to honour the Constitution and allow the Vice-President, Ms Joyce Banda, to take over the leadership following news that President Bingu wa Mutharika has died.


Mr Muluzi told a news conference yesterday that there was a need for the government to honour the Constitution after it emerged that Mr Mutharika was too incapacitated to continue carrying on his presidential duties.


In the afternoon, the Malawi civil society organisations alleged that the government was planning to call for an emergency parliamentary meeting to elect Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda as acting president or allow the military to take over.  The Cabinet had been meeting throughout the day.


“We call for smooth secession and constitutional order. We are surprised that the office of the Vice-President is not being consulted. We are concerned with the secrets surrounding the whole issue,” reads part of the communiqué that was read out to the press.


Meanwhile, Mr Mutharika’s cabinet has been locked in a meeting since morning and has not made any official communication apart from confirming that the president is in South Africa receiving further medication.


Ms Banda, currently fired from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and has not been attending cabinet meetings for close to two years. She is expected to take over the country’s leadership in an acting capacity, according to the country’s constitution.


The Vice President’s spokesperson, Ms Ruth Govati, said there has not been any communication to the office of the Vice President regarding the process of taking over the leadership since Mr Mutharika was taken ill.


 “There has not been any communication which I know about. We are hearing about this (the president’s illness) like anyone else,” she said. Ms Banda, speaking on one of the local radios, wished the president quick recovery and called upon Malawians to pray for him.


Malawi Law Society secretary Bright Theu said it was necessary for the wheels of the law to start running to ensure that the Vice President takes over the leadership on acting capacity, but said the condition of the President will determine the next action.


In the case of incapacitation, Mr Theu said standard procedure has to be followed as laid down in the Constitution where independent doctors, the first vice-president and the majority of cabinet ministers have to declare that the President is incapacitated.


 “The declaration must be handed over to the Speaker and immediately the Vice-President takes over the leadership on acting capacity. Malawi needs to manage the power vacuum to ensure stability,” he said.


Section 87 of the Malawian Constitution reads in part: “(1.) Whenever the President is incapacitated so as to be unable to discharge the powers and duties of that office, the First Vice-President shall act as President, until such time, in the President’s term of office, as the President is able to resume his or her functions.”



By Rex Chikoko, The Citizen Correspondent

 via The Citizen

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