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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04LILONGWE1
2004-01-02 11:50:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

VP RESIGNS FOUR MONTHS BEFORE ELECTIONS

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  KDEM  MI 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS LILONGWE 000001 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM MI
SUBJECT: VP RESIGNS FOUR MONTHS BEFORE ELECTIONS

REF: 03 LILONGWE 1202



1. (U) On January 1, First Vice President Justin Malewezi
announced that December 31, 2003 was his last day in office
and that he has resigned as First Deputy National Chairman of
the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF). In his press
release, Malewezi said he made the decision for personal
reasons and will comment more fully on his future plans in
two weeks, after he has "had time to reflect on (his)
options." Apart from confirming receipt of Malewezi's
resignation, neither the Office of the President and Cabinet
(OPC) nor the UDF have commented. (NOTE: Malewezi officially
still encumbers the vice presidency. He is taking leave
until his mandate ends with the May 2004 elections.)



2. (U) The OPC, however, did announce that UDF 2004 vice
presidential candidate Cassim Chilumpha will take up
Malewezi's secondary position of Minister of Privatization.

COMMENT


--------------------------




3. (SBU) Malewezi's resignation from the UDF is a serious
blow to the party and to its chances of winning the May
presidential elections. He is widely regarded as among the
most capable, hard-working, and honest of UDF leaders, and he
has taken lead roles in HIV/AIDS, food security, and
privatization. He was criticized by party stalwarts for not
being supportive enough of a third term for President Muluzi,
and his relations with the President have been lukewarm ever
since. When Muluzi hand-picked outsider Bingu wa Mutharika
as his successor in March, the rupture was complete.
Although Malewezi has been marginalized in the government
over the past year, he nevertheless offered it a measure of
credibility. His abrupt resignation has exacerbated party
disarray, and has led to speculation about other high-level
defections. The big question now is what Malewezi will do
next -- throw his support to an opposition candidate or
consider a presidential run of his own. END COMMENT.
BROWNING