US embassy cable - 04LILONGWE559

UDF OBTAINS MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT; MULUZI INCREASES INFLUENCE OVER MUTHARIKA

Identifier: 04LILONGWE559
Wikileaks: View 04LILONGWE559 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Lilongwe
Created: 2004-06-23 09:32:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV KDEM PINR MI United Democratic Front Parliament Political
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 000559 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PINR, MI, United Democratic Front, Parliament, Political 
SUBJECT: UDF OBTAINS MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT; MULUZI 
INCREASES INFLUENCE OVER MUTHARIKA 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
1. (SBU) With the June 18 announcement that the National 
Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the ruling United Democratic 
Front (UDF) have formed an alliance, the UDF (owing primarily 
to Chairman Bakili Muluzi's political maneuvering) has 
successfully secured a majority in Parliament and overcome 
the opposition.  As kingpin of the deals in the House, former 
President Muluzi has deepened his influence over President 
Bingu wa Mutharika while garnering support for 
Muluzi-loyalist Rodwell Munyenyembe as Speaker.  Scheduled to 
convene June 28, Parliament will elect a Speaker and Deputies 
before Mutharika officially opens the session on June 29. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
NDA AND UDF FORM AN ALLIANCE 
---------------------------- 
2. (U) National Democratic Alliance (NDA) President Brown 
Mpinganjira and ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party 
chairman Bakili Muluzi announced on June 18 at Muluzi's 
Blantyre residence that the two parties had agreed to form an 
alliance "for the sake of national unity."  At the time of 
the announcement, no formal MOU had been signed, and a 
technical committee was reported to be working out the 
details.  Mpinganjira said the NDA joined the UDF because it 
wanted to actively participate in "national development," and 
he claimed he has received no "material benefits" from the 
alliance.  President Bingu wa Mutharika was notably absent 
from the press conference. 
 
UDF'S MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT 
---------------------------- 
3. (SBU) With the NDA's 8 seats in Parliament, the UDF has 
the support of 105 parliamentarians, 8 more than the simple 
majority required to pass legislation in the 193 member 
house.  Thanks to Muluzi's politicking, the UDF's majority is 
supported by 6 different political parties and 22 independent 
MPs. 
 
4. (SBU) UDF Spokesperson Ken Lipenga told the media on June 
20 that the UDF will support Rodwell Munyenyembe, who was 
elected the House's first Speaker in 1994, as the party's 
candidate for Speaker.  The Malawi Congress Party (MCP), 
leading opposition party with 57 parliamentary seats, has 
said its candidate will be Louis Chimango.  (COMMENT: After 
Munyenyembe lost his parliamentary seat in 1999, he defected 
from the Alliance for Democracy to the UDF.  Since then, he 
has been a Muluzi loyalist, serving in high-ranking cabinet 
positions throughout Muluzi's second term, most recently as 
Minister of Defense.  END COMMENT.) 
 
FIRST SESSION OF THE HOUSE 
-------------------------- 
5. (SBU) Clerk of Parliament Roosevelt Gondwe told polfsn the 
election of the Speaker and Deputies will take place the 
morning of June 28.  The President will officially open the 
session with an address on the morning of June 29.  A 
constitutionally-mandated 5 days of debate on the President's 
comments will follow.  The House will then begin regular 
business. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
6. (SBU) With the conclusion of an alliance with once 
arch-enemy Brown Mpinganjira and the NDA after earlier 
cementing an alliance with Gwanda Chakuamba and his Republic 
Party, Muluzi and the UDF have effectively trumped the 
opposition.  Several parties that vowed never to work 
together have aligned themselves with the UDF, and Muluzi is 
clearly the kingpin.  With Mutharika dependent on a working 
majority in Parliament, Muluzi has increased his influence 
over Mutharika.  END COMMENT. 
DOUGHERTY 

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