Malawi leader forms task force for third term bid

binguwaPresident Bingu wa Mutharika has sanctioned a group of his sympathizers to form a task force to drum up support and advance the idea to extend his rule beyond 2014, Nyasa Times has established.

Mutharika, 77, who renewed his mandate through a landslide victory on May 19, is barred by the constitution to seek a third consecutive term in 2014.

However, sources attending a task force meeting at the residence of Leston Mulli of Mulli Brothers Group of companies said the group a laying ground work to ensure Mutharika rules beyond 2014.

We have been discussing a strategy which we are calling it Development Term of President Mutharika, informed the source, a highly ranking ruling DPP official.

Another source collaborated the story saying the main purpose is to drum up support for the upcoming Constitutional amendment bill to the tenure of President from five years to seven years.

The option discussed to ensure Mutharika holds on to power beyond 2014 are that we amend the constitution to add a term of a President from the current five-year to seven years.

This will be done together with an amendment of the term of members of parliament from five years to seven years so that the schedule of holding the presidential and parliamentary elections is moved forward together, said the source.

The group has also discussed an option of debating a motion in parliament that the first five years President Mutharika served from 2004 to 2009 was a mandate of UDF which he was elected on its banner and that he is serving the first five years as President under the mandate of DPP.

We will argue that this is technically Bingus first term, and DPPs first term to rule, said the source.

Mutharikas task force which has most of people from the Lhomwe ethnic tribe of the President agreed to argue that the first five years of the President was disturbed with political fights with UDF and the opposition dominated parliament over issues of Section 65 anti defection law, impeachment and delays to pass on the budget.

Despite previous hints by Mutharika that he would not seek a straight third term, the revelations for task force to map strategies of extending his power are the strongest indication that the President is not ready to step down.

The Presidents party has an absolute majority in parliament to amend laws.

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