This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS LILONGWE 000614
STATE FOR AF/S, INR/AA MCC FOR KEVIN SABA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/20/2010 TAGS: KCOR KDEM PGOV PREL MI SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT PASSES OPPOSITION TEST IN PARLIAMENT
REF: LILONGWE 000364
Classified By: CDA M. Lewellen for reasons 1.4 b and d
1. (SBU) A controversial constitutional ammendment (reftel) supported by the full force of both opposition parties was rejected in Parliament on July 19th. The bill would have forced MPs who change parties to give up their seats in Parliament. The bill had the full support of the opposition, and probably garnered more support than an impeachment motion might, yet still failed to get the two-thirds majority required to pass.
2. (U) The opposition-sponsored bill needed 124 votes to pass, but only received 111 votes. This is despite support from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democtratic Front (UDF), and a number of independents who usually do not vote with the opposition. The bill was specifically aimed at stopping MPs from defecting from existing parties to join the President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
3. (SBU) Comment: This has to be considered a good sign for the President, as it shows the difficulty the opposition has in getting a two-thirds majority in parliament, such as would be needed for an impeachment motion. However, the MCP and UDF can still combine to muster a simple majority, which is all that's needed for most motions. While it appears that they won't be able to impeach the President, they are sure to continue to make business difficult for him and his government. LEWELLEN