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Malawi celebrates independence anniversary amid political
impasse
+ -
08:19, July 07, 2007

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Malawi''s 43rd independence anniversary commemorated on Friday was overshadowed by the current political rift between President Bingu Wa Mutharika''s government and opposition parties over crossing the floor by parliamentarians.

Malawi has been thrown into political turmoil especially in the country''s parliament since June 15 when the Supreme Court of Appeal made a landmark ruling that is likely to further weaken Mutharika''s already weak stand in the national assembly.

The country''s highest court ruled that legislators who quit a political party that sponsored them to the national assembly to join other parties represented in the chamber shall be deemed to have crossed the floor and must therefore lose their seats.

The ruling dealt a painful blow to Mutharika''s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) whose majority members in parliament numbering about 70 defected from other parties, especially the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).

The main event to mark Malawi''s 43 years of independence from British rule was organized in Blantyre, which was graced by Mutharika.

Visibly absent at the event were leaders of Malawi''s major opposition parties, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the former ruling UDF, who are vehemently putting pressure on Speaker of the national assembly, Louis Chimango, to declare vacant seats of legislators affected by the court ruling.

Mutharika, however, took advantage of the event to categorically state that his party and government were not against application of the court ruling, which if applied could see his DPP completely weakened in parliament as the party is bound to lose close to 70 legislators.

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