Peter Mutharika risks losing candidacy

One of the potential candidates in Malawi’s forthcoming tripartite elections and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika risks losing his candidature due to the controversies surrounding his status as a United States of America Green Card holder.

In an interview Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa also hinted that the Malawi Constitution bars the nomination of anyone who has allegiance to another country apart from Malawi from participating in the elections.

Mwafulirwa cited Section 80 (7) (d) of the Constitution.

Peter Mutharika: Candidacy puzzle
Peter Mutharika: Candidacy puzzle

“No person shall be eligible for nomination as a candidate for election of President or First Vice President or for appointment as First Vice President or Second Vice President if that person owes allegiance to a foreign country,” reads the Section.

The US Embassy in Lilongwe has insisted that a Green Card holder is a not a citizen of the USA although he is allowed to reside in the country indefinitely.

However, the Department of Homeland Security says a Green Card holder is among other things required to pay taxes to the US government even on income not made in that country, maintain proof of residence and must have a home in the US and must stay in the country for a minimum of 90 days in every 12 months.

The Homeland Security Department states that one can lose the Green Card if he or she fails to file tax returns while living outside of the US.

According to one of the country’s legal expert Justin Dzonzi, based on the requirements if Mutharika goes ahead to present his nomination letters to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) his candidature can be easily and successfully challenged in court on ground of his holding of the US Green Card.

“This in my interpretation is enough evidence that a Green Card holder has allegiance to the US government because is as good as a citizen of that country. Therefore, if indeed Mutharika has Green Card his nomination can be successfully challenged in court,” said Dzonzi who is executive director of Justice Link.

Mutharika who left Malawi mid-December last year is yet to return from his second home of Virginia in the United States where he was a University Professor for many years before his brother the late President Bingu wa Mutharika recalled him home for an abortive succession plan.

The DPP leader has always insisted that he has no dual citizenship but that he has a 10-year multiple entry visa for the US through the green card and a 15-year multiple entry visa for the United Kingdom.

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