Malawi’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is scheming a fallback option on having a “substitute” presidential candidate as they fear its leader Peter Mutharika may fail to run for presidency in 2014 owing to legal challenges, Nyasa Times understands.
Mutharika, a law professor himself, has hinted that his candidature faces mist, accusing government of using the legal system in the country to block people from standing for political offices in the 2014 elections.
“It would be very important at the time that we should have a level playing field. Legal or penal systems should not be used to make it difficult for others or stop them from contesting in the elections. There must be justice and fairness in the whole process,” Mutharika is quoted by the press as saying.
The 74-year old Mutharika is answering perjury and treason charges related tin the events that happened during the transition soon after the death of his brother president Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year.
He is also expected to face a challenge on his candidature on allegations that he still holds dual citizenship and effectively owes allegiance to a country, other than Malawi [being the United States of America].
DPP top brass told Nyasa Times that the party is lining up possible presidential candidates in the event of Mutharika being barred.
“We are consulting on Plan B. There will be a presidential candidate in waiting should government succeed to blocking Peter from standing,” said a top DPP official.
But DPP’s leader in parliament and a law expert, Dr George Chaponda has said they are hopeful Mutharika will contest the elections despite facing criminal charges.
“Remember even in Kenya, the president Uhuru [Kenyatta] was allowed to contest and won the elections despite being under charges by the International Criminal Court [ICC] in Hague,” said Chaponda.
Mutharika is one of the presidential candidates alongside Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), President Joyce Banda for People’s Party (PP) and Atupele Muluzi for United Democratic Front (UDF).