|Wikileaks:||View 04LILONGWE468 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||PGOV KDEM MI Political Parliament|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000468 SIPDIS SENSITIVE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, MI, Political, Parliament SUBJECT: OPPOSITION SET TO TAKE PARLIAMENT'S LEADERSHIP REF: A. LILONGWE 450 B. LILONGWE 449 SUMMARY ------- 1. (SBU) As Parliament prepares for the June 7 swearing-in of new members and selection of leadership, opposition political parties have pledged to work together to take control of the House. Meanwhile, the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) is trying to gain the support of independents MPs, most of whom were once members of the UDF. Establishing and maintaining a working majority will likely dominate parliamentary politics over the coming year. END SUMMARY. COMPOSITION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ------------------------------------ 2. (U) Revised election tallies and wrangles over disputed results in some parliamentary districts leave the current breakdown of political parties in Parliament as follows: Malawi Congress Party (MCP) - 56; United Democratic Front (UDF) - 49; Republican Party - 15; National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - 8; Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) 6; People's Progressive Movement (PPM) - 6; Movement for Genuine Democratic Change (MGODE) - 3; Congress for National Unity (CONU) - 1; and People's Transformation Party (PETRA) - 1. 39 independents also won seats. For the 193 member house, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has not yet announced results for 3 constituencies and will hold by-elections in 6 constituencies in which elections were not held. 3. (U) By-elections will also be held in President Bingu wa Mutharika and Vice President Cassim Chilumpha's constituencies, as the Constitution bars the President and First and Second Vice Presidents from holding seats in the National Assembly. (NOTE: Until by-elections are conducted, the UDF will only have 47 MPs, which reduces its ability to influence the initial selection of Parliament's leadership. It is expected that the UDF will win the by-elections in both the President and Vice President's constituencies.) ALLIANCE BUILDING ----------------- 4. (SBU) To bolster its numbers, the ruling UDF has actively been pursuing independents and opposition MPs to join its ranks, or to enter informal voting alliances. UDF chairman Bakili Muluzi, who vowed that independents would not be welcomed back into the party, has reversed himself and called for independents to return to the UDF. The UDF leadership claims to have support from several of them, many of whom originally wished to stand on the UDF ticket but were not supported by the UDF leadership. CONU MP Richard Mwaila has also announced he will support the UDF. 5. (SBU) A May 25 press release issued by the MCP, NDA, and Mgwirizano Coalition (comprising RP, PPM, MGODE, and PETRA) stated that the parties have agreed to work together "to effectively provide a vibrant opposition in Parliament and ensure that there are checks and balances in all operations of government." If successful in joining together, the opposition coalition would have support from 89 MPs, 8 shy of a simple majority in the House (before independents are counted). MCP MP Louis Chimango has been tipped as Speaker of Parliament, with the First and Second Duty Speakerships going to the RP and NDA, respectively. The statement, however, explicitly stated that "each party will work independently outside Parliament" and that the agreement to work together does not negate RP President Gwanda Chakuamba's legal challenge of the elections (reftel B). (NOTE: An MCP spokesperson announced on May 20 that MCP will support Chakuamba's case by providing legal support and evidence. END NOTE.) PARLIAMENT TO CONVENE, SELECT LEADERS ------------------------------------- 6. (U) The Clerk of Parliament announced on May 31 that Parliament will hold a swearing-in of new members and selection of leadership on June 7. Among the positions to be determined are Speaker, First and Second Deputy Speakers, and committee chairs. The two-day session will also include a basic orientation to Parliament. COMMENT ------- 7. (SBU) Independents will be the key players in Parliament, and they are currently being wooed by both sides. At present, it is difficult to determine how many will support the ruling party and how many will join the opposition alliance. The almost equal division between the two sides will also make the forthcoming by-elections very contentious competitions, which could ultimately determine who has control of Parliament. In any case, maintenance of alliances will remain a constant challenge for leadership on both sides of the house. 8. COMMENT CONTINUED. In the past, opposition has seen its primary role as that of thwarting government initiatives rather than offering alternate programs and policies. If the opposition does successfully take control of the House's leadership, it will have to break from this mind-set in order to work constructively. END COMMENT. DOUGHERTY
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