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Malawi - Government

Malawi is a Republic and gained independence from Britain on July 6 1964 and became a multiparty democracy in 1993. Central Government comprises of the Executive (President, Cabinet and Civil Servants); Judiciary (Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the Magistrates Court) and Legislature (Parliament and members of Parliament).

The President heads the Executive arm of Government. The President is the Head of State, Head of Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Defence Force. The Government of Malawi has been a multiparty democracy since 1994. Under the 1995 constitution, the president, who is both chief of state and head of the government, is chosen through universal direct suffrage every 5 years. Malawi's vice president is elected with the president. The president has the option of appointing a second vice president, who must be from a different party. The members of the presidentially appointed cabinet can be drawn from either within or outside of the legislature.

The Legislative arm of Government is the Parliament of Malawi. Parliament is presided by the Speaker of the House and in his abscence the Deputy Speaker both of who are elected by Members of Parliament. Parliament consists of 193 members when fully constituted.

Malawi's National Assembly has 193 seats, all directly elected to serve 5-year terms. The constitution also provides for a second house, a Senate of 80 seats, but to date no action has been taken to create the Senate. The Senate was intended to provide representation for traditional leaders and the different geographical districts, as well as various special interest groups, such as women, youth, and the disabled.

The Judiciary is the third arm of Government vested with judicial authority and is independent. The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Malawi's judicial system, based on the English model, is made up of magisterial lower courts, a high court, a Supreme Court of Appeal, and a constitutional court. The Lord Chief Justice heads the Judiciary and is deputized by the Deputy Chief Justice.

Local Government is headed by the Minister of Local Government. It is then decentralized into Urban authorities and municipalities (Mayor, Chief Executive, Municipal and Ward Council); District Council (Chairperson and Local Council) and Traditional Authority Council (Group Village headman and Village Head).

Local government is carried out in 28 districts within three regions administered by regional administrators and district commissioners who are appointed by the central government. Constitutionally mandated local elections are to be held 1 year after presidential and parliamentary elections. The first local elections in the multiparty era took place in on November 21, 2000, and the UDF party won 70% of the seats. The second round of local elections, originally scheduled for May 2005, were never held. Local elections were again scheduled for May 2010, but these elections have been indefinitely postponed as well.

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