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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LILONGWE508
2005-06-16 12:22:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

MALAWI IMPEACHMENT RUMORS SWIRL

Tags:   PREL  ECON  KDEM  PGOV  KCOR  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.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L LILONGWE 000508 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/S
STATE FOR EB/IFD/OMA FRANCES CHISHOLM
TREASURY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/AFRICA/BEN CUSHMAN
MCC FOR KEVIN SABA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/16/2015
TAGS: PREL ECON KDEM PGOV KCOR MI
SUBJECT: MALAWI IMPEACHMENT RUMORS SWIRL


Classified By: CDA D. Gilmour for reasons 1.4 b and d

-------
SUMMARY
------



1. (C) Long-standing rumors of an impeachment attempt in
Parliament have gained some credibility recently. The
President's former party is said to be ready to bring the
issue to the floor soon, and the President's office is
canvassing diplomatic missions for legal help. At this
point, the main danger is not an impeachment attempt itself
but the distraction from the parliamentary agenda. End
summary.



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


RUMORS GAINING SOME CREDIBILITY


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





2. (U) For months there have been rumors of an impeachment
attempt in the current session of Parliament. According to
these rumors, former President Bakili Muluzi intends to
persuade Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader John Tembo to
ally with Muluzi's own United Democratic Front (UDF) to table
an impeachment motion against President Bingu wa Mutharika.
The grounds of the motion would be irregularities in the past
election, which allegedly allowed Mutharika to edge out Tembo
in the Central Region.



3. (C) The rumors have acquired more credibility in recent
days. The Parliament voted today to amend the National
Assembly's rules to make it easier to introduce a debate on
impeachment. This means a debate on the topic may well
happen. That said, impeachment itself requires a 2/3
majority, which seems much less likely.



4. (C) Somewhat more alarming is that the Office of the
President and Cabinet today sent a representative to the
Embassy and to at least one other diplomatic mission to ask
for legal assistance in case the impeachment motion should be
brought and passed. The representative claimed that Muluzi
has been actively seeking to bribe MPs to support
impeachment.



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


PARLIAMENTARIANS SEEM FOCUSED ON BUDGET


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





5. (C) An informal meeting on 15 June between the Charge and
several key parliamentarians indicated only that a serious
debate on the budget is in store for next week. We saw few
hints that Parliament is intent on bringing down the
government or seriously weighing new elections (a
no-confidence vote is not an option under the Malawian
constitution). Rather, our interlocutors seemed focused on
the nuts and bolts of the budget debate and the
administration's development agenda, with which they are in
general agreement.




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



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


COMMENT: LEGISLATIVE AGENDA THE MOST LIKELY CASUALTY


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



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





6. (C) While the President's level of concern is distressing,
it still appears that impeachment is not likely. The issue
may come to debate, and the UDF may offer evidence that it
rigged the 2004 elections. But most parliamentarians appear
to understand the economic implications of sending a signal
to the world that Malawi is not politically stable. The most
likely impact of the debate, if it happens at all, is that
Parliament will once again fail to get through its agenda,
passing the budget and nothing more. The facts that
Parliament is on the cusp of claiming a role as a serious
partner in government, and that this Parliament has far more
gravitas than is usually the case here, argue against extreme
action.
GILMOUR