US embassy cable - 04LILONGWE493

"GOVERNMENT OF RECONCILIATION" NOT YET CERTAIN

Identifier: 04LILONGWE493
Wikileaks: View 04LILONGWE493 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Lilongwe
Created: 2004-06-07 11:50:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV KDEM MI Political President Parliament Cabinet
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 LILONGWE 000493 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, MI, Political, President, Parliament, Cabinet 
SUBJECT: "GOVERNMENT OF RECONCILIATION" NOT YET CERTAIN 
 
REF: LILONGWE 488 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
1. (SBU) Eighteen days after his controversial election, 
President Bingu wa Mutharika has still to appoint a cabinet. 
Meanwhile, the Office of the President and Cabinet has 
postponed the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers of 
Parliament (ostensibly over legal technicalities).  The 
delayed appointment of a cabinet and the postponed election 
of the Speaker indicate that the ruling United Democratic 
Front (UDF) is not yet confident in the viability of its 
"government of reconciliation," which was designed to give it 
a working majority in Parliament.  END SUMMARY. 
 
SPEAKER'S ELECTION POSTPONED 
---------------------------- 
2. (U) On the eve of the June 7 swearing-in and orientation 
of new parliamentarians, the Clerk of Parliament announced 
that pursuant to a letter from the Secretary of the Office of 
President and Cabinet (OPC), Parliament's leadership will not 
be elected until the President officially calls the first 
session of Parliament.  The OPC statement indicated that the 
Constitution requires the Speaker and Deputy Speakers to be 
elected at the first session of Parliament and not at an 
"unofficial" organizational meeting, as had been previously 
announced. 
 
STILL NO CABINET 
---------------- 
3. (SBU) Yet to announce his cabinet, President Bingu wa 
Mutharika, along with United Democratic Front (UDF) chairman 
Bakili Muluzi, continues to seek support from independents 
and opposition MPs to gain a working majority in Parliament. 
The UDF's June 3 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding 
(MOU) with the Republican Party (RP) and the Movement for 
Genuine Democratic Change (MGODE) has garnered the UDF 
several seats in the House and has cost it at least five 
cabinet level-positions (reftel).  In addition, a Blantyre 
business contact told econoff that Muluzi has been soliciting 
funds from business leaders in the U.K. and South Africa in 
order to secure a majority in the House. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
4. (SBU) It is unclear which RP and MGODE officials will 
receive cabinet-level positions.  RP President Gwanda 
Chakuamba, who was thought to be interested in the Second 
Vice Presidency, maintains that he plans "to retire from 
politics." 
 
5. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Bartering for parliamentarians' 
support is ongoing, and it is clearly getting expensive.  The 
delay in announcing the cabinet and OPC's directive to 
postpone the election of Parliament's leadership (while 
technically a legal question) indicate that the UDF has not 
yet acquired the majority it seeks.  END COMMENT 
DOUGHERTY 

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