US clears Mutharika on green card, renounces it: ‘Come May 21 I’m Malawi President’

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika has been cleared by United States  over green card permanent residence and he has also renounced it to clear any legal pitfalls for his candidacy in the May 20 presidential elections.

Mutharika’s aide Ben Phiri confirmed that his boss has filed papers through the US embassy in Lilongwe   through lawyer Samuel Tembenu asking whether  or not holding a green card means he owes allegiance to the United States.

In response on February 4, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Lilongwe, Micheal Gonzales informed that: “The issuance of a green card does not convey US  citizenship or imply the allegiance or the bearer to the United State.”

Mutharika: Surrender of the card is not an admission of any wrong-doing.
Mutharika: Surrender of the card is not an admission of any wrong-doing.

Mutharika himself speaking at a news conference in Lilongwe on Thursday disclosed he has renounced the green card.

” am no longer a holder of the Green Card. I just wanted this nonsense about the Green Card to be stopped.

“The country is facing a lot of problems,  people want to get answers from the leadership not to be hearing about the green card. So I have decided to do that because I want people to freely choose without gimmicks and dubious comments on legal issues,” he said.

Mutharika said he surrendered his green card at the US Embassy in Lilongwe.

He said his detractors were using the issue  as part of harrassing him.

“I knew there will be persecution,” he said, promising he will not apply for the US green card again, saying said his announcement does not mean that there was anything wrong with him holding the card.

“My decision is also not out of any pressure. All fair-minded Malawians agree that a green card does not mean that one owes allegiance to the United States. Learned and leading American legal experts and even the finest legal brains in this country would and do agree,” he added.

“I will be with you guys until the day I will close my eyes and bury me at my Kamoto village TA Chimaliro in Thyolo,” said Mutharika sounding upbeat.

A legal expert Justin Dzonzi argued recenty that Mutharika  candidacy for the president need to be challenged in a court of law basing on his holding US green card.

Dzonzi, Justice Link executive director, said the court needs to give interpretation on the matter, arguing that legally, the green card is the US permanent resident card which is issued under the Homeland Security Act 2002 as an identification card attesting to the permanent resident status of a foreigner living and working in the United States.

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.

“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.

Mutharika, who is scheduled to present his nomination papers with his running mate on February 10 to MEC, still faces criminal charges in court.  But Dzonzi said  he could not be barred from contesting based on the court proceedings unless he has been proven guilty.

He observed that the cases could discourage or frighten DPP supporters into thinking that their party would not participate in the polls.

Meanwhile, Mutharika said he is also giving up his Thyolo East seat where he would not contest beaming with confidence that the presidency is  what he will win at all costs.

Mutharika declared recently “ rest be assured that come May 20, I am standing . And by May 21 I will be the president of this nation.”

Mutharika said  his resignation to parliament follows section 80 of the constitution which states that any presidential candidate should not be an MP before presenting nominations papers to the Electoral Commission.--(Reporting by Wanga Gwede, additional reporting by Chancy Namadzunda, Nyasa Times)

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