MALAWI: AU asks Muluzi to withdraw

muluzi.jpgThe African Union (AU) mission to Malawi by former presidents of Ghana and Mozambique John Kufuor and Joachim Chissano, respectively, is to convince the country's former president Bakili Muluzi not to contest in the forthcoming May 19 general elections to help ease tension between him and the incumbent President who is seeking re-

Kufuor and Chissano, who were expected in the country Wednesday afternoon, met Muluzi and Mutharika twice during a previous visit two weeks ago.

According to UDF sources and the President's aides, both Bingu wa Mutharika and Muluzi gave conditions towards any potential movements towards dialogue and withdrawal of Muluzi's candidature which they could not reveal.

Two Cabinet ministers, senior UDF officials and the President's aides corroborated that Kufuor and Chissano asked Muluzi to withdraw his candidature.

AU sources also confirmed the ex-presidents asked Muluzi to step down as an aspiring presidential candidate.

Senior UDF members said the party's national executive committee (Nec) members George nga Mtafu, Friday Jumbe and Harry Thomson attended the first meeting Chissano and Kufuor had with Muluzi.

But at this meeting, the issue of Muluzi's candidature was never brought up…it came up in the second private meeting the two leaders had with Muluzi after they talked to Mutharika, a UDF party insider said. This was also corroborated by other party officials.

Jumbe confirmed attending the first meeting at Muluzi's BCA Hill residence but said the issue of Muluzi's candidature never came up during their meeting. Mtafu and Thomson were not available for comment.

When the visiting ex-leaders were asked about Muluzi's comeback bid during their press briefing last week, Chissano did not answer directly but said he believed the law should be followed for one to stand or not.

Kufuor, on the other hand, described any insistence on standing for presidency without the backing of the constitution as a coup against the people and constitution.

UDF Alliance spokesperson Humphrey Mvula Wednesday dismissed assertions that Chissano and Kufour had asked Muluzi to step down in the second meeting they had with him.

Muluzi was re-arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) after the two former presidents, on an AU mission, announced that Mutharika, Muluzi and MCP president John Tembo agreed to enter into dialogue. His arrest forced the two ex-leaders to fly back to Malawi Wednesday to meet Muluzi and Mutharika only as Tembo is reportedly in South Africa on a private trip.

Mvula on Wednesday said the UDF is scheduled to meet the AU leaders but were yet to get confirmation on the exact time. MCP said they were not aware of the visit.

State House press officer Chikumbutso Mtumodzi insisted all communication on the visit of the two leaders will come from the AU mission in the country while Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Joyce Banda was in Nkhata Bay attending Martyrs Day commemoration.

The Nation

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