Cabinet defies Mutharika on State of Emergency

An emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday defied President Bingu wa Mutharika on his intentions to declare a State of Emergency in the country.

Some ministers disclosed that Mutharika who chaired the meeting, wanted to declare a state of emergency but many cabinet ministers were against the idea arguing that the probability of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) getting two thirds in Parliament to pass the motion was low.

“The president told the meeting that he wanted to declare a state of emergency in the country based on the current political landscape. Some ministers challenged the president on the idea. They told him that the issue has to go through Parliament,” said the source.

Mutharika: Wants a State of Emergency

“They told him that although DPP has majority, it was clear that most of the MPs were against the party silently and their support and allegiance ought to be not taken for granted,” one minister said.

Malawi National Assembly has 193 legislators. DPP has officially got 120 MPs.

The minister said the debate brought tension and division among the cabinet with some supporting Mutharika and others against.

“The president saw the merit in the arguments and bowed down to the pressure not to go ahead with the state of emergency plans,” the minister said.

The country had state of emergency on 3rd March 1959 when the founding president late Hastings Kamuzu Banda was arrested by colonial masters as he was fighting for independence.

Malawi has turned into a police state with heavy police presence in the cities. The tension is created by Mutharika himself who claimed that some people wanted to topple his government.

From July 20 2011 Malawians have shown growing anger over his leadership.

The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), made up of religious groups, rights activists and the opposition, said Mutharika should either quit office or a referendum be called within three months.

But Mutharika in remarks broadcast live on state radio defiantly said he will not step down “until 2014.”

“I would like to say that Bingu doesn’t run away from work, Bingu doesn’t desert responsibility even if the going gets tough,” he said.

“This is my answer to the memorandum that they say they have written, I won’t answer again!” said Mutharika.

The President said he was not ready for any further dialogue with his critics, saying: “According to laws, I am supposed to step down in 2014.”

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