Debate on Malawi leader of opposition ensues

Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda says he is waiting for communication from political parties on the new leader of opposition after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has now been pushed to the opposition benches following the ascendency to power of President Joyce Banda.

In the country’s semi-presidential system, the President is elected independently of the legislature and usually the President’s party regardless of its number of law makers in Parliament is regarded as the ruling party.

A lawyer conversant with Standing Orders, rules governing the conduct of business at Parliament said in an interview with Nyasa Timesthat the DPP will have to take over the leadership of the opposition in parliament if their numbers will surpass that of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Peter Mutharika: Tipped to be leader of opposition

Currently MCP president John Tembo is the leader of opposition in Parliament.

In an interview this week, Chimunthu Banda said he would act on the issue once the political parties write him.

“I cannot say anything now because the issue is hypothetical. I will comment after I have been written on the issue. Political parties have not yet written me,” said Chimunthu Banda.

However, MCP spokesperson Nancy Tembo said the MCP president will not lose the leadership to Peter Mutharika who now leads the opposition DPP because the law is very clear on the choice of leader of opposition in the 193-strong National Assembly.

“My understanding is that the position goes to the party that has come second in an election. The DPP is where it is now because of circumstances that have occurred,” said Tembo.

First vice President of the DPP Goodall Gondwe said the party will have to discuss the issue with the Speaker after the mourning period is over.

“These issues will be discussed with the Speaker and an amicable solution will be reached to enable the government function properly,” said Gondwe.

DPP has been hit with top level defections after former president Bingu wa Mutharika died and most of them say they will now work with Banda in Parliament.

But Gondwe said it was too early to comment on the defections before the burial of former head of state.

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