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Malawi - President Bakili Elson Muluzi

Bakili Elson Muluzi was the candidate of the opposition UDF in the May 1994 presidential election, the countrys first multiparty election. He won the election with 47% of the vote, defeating Malawis leader since independence, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Muluzi is Malawis first Muslim President. Muluzi was the president of Malawi from 1994 to 2004 and was Chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF) until 2009. He had served in Bandas cabinet as Minister without Portfolio, before retiring in 1980.

Bakili Muluzi, leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF), won 82 of the 177 seats in the National Assembly and formed a coalition government with the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). That coalition disbanded in June 1996, but some of its members remained in the government. The President was referred to as Dr. Muluzi, having received an honorary degree at Lincoln University in Missouri in 1995. Malawi's newly written constitution (1995) eliminated special powers previously reserved for the Malawi Congress Party. Accelerated economic liberalization and structural reform accompanied the political transition.

When Malawi held its second democratic elections on June 15, 1999, Muluzi was reelected to serve a second 5-year term as President, despite an MCP-AFORD alliance that ran a joint slate against the UDF. He was re-elected with 52.4% of the vote, defeating challenger Gwanda Chakuamba who was the leader of the opposition movement, Mgwirizano Coalition. In 2002 he proposed an amendment to Malawis Republic Constitution that would have allowed him to run for a third term, but this was abandoned, after the National Assembly of Malawi Members of Parliament, courts, and demonstrations blocked the move.

Even with controversies and questionable dealings, Muluzi was a popular leader, particularly in southern part of the country. He remained the Chairman of the UDF, and after a dispute with his successor as President, Mutharika, the latter left the UDF and formed his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in February 2005. In April 2005, Muluzi apologized to Malawians for choosing Mutharika as his successor and imposing him on the country.

Supporters of former Malawi President Bakali Muluzi were upset with President Bingu Wa Mutharika after he accused the former president of planning to overthrow him. Mutharika said he has uncovered a plot by Muluzi and supporters of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) to topple his government using section 65 of the constitution. The section bars legislators from leaving parties that sponsored them into power and joining another party in Parliament.

Malawians were skeptical about the prospects of the peace negotiations between President Mutharikas government and the opposition. The ongoing peace negotiations between the opposition and the government were reportedly called by President Mutharika to resolve the brewing political tensions in the Malawi parliament after opposition parliamentarians began an indefinite boycott of parliamentary activities.





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