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Malawi President resigns from ruling party
by Raphael Tenthani

The Associated Press    Translate This Article
5 February 2005

BLANTYRE, Malawi - Malawi's president resigned from the ruling party on Saturday, blaming party members for condoning political graft and for blocking his drive to end corruption.

Bingu Wa Mutharika will continue as president, but his resignation from the ruling United Democratic Front was seen as an indictment of the previous regime led by former president and party head Bakili Muluzi.

Wa Mutharika complained that he had inherited a government and party ''infested with men and women who thrived in corruption.'' The president warned that he will hunt down all those who plundered Malawi's economy during the past 10 years.

''I am not happy to see Malawi being ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world,'' he said. ''A few individuals in government have grown rich within the past 10 years while millions remain poor.''

Muluzi had hand-picked wa Mutharika to succeed him after failing twice to extend his tenure of office beyond the official two five-year terms. Wa Mutharika won an election in May that observers said was plagued by irregularities.

Wa Mutharika has since angered the party after he ordered the arrest of senior members for treason, accusing them of conspiring with Muluzi to assassinate him—claims the officials and former president denied.

The president has accused Muluzi of trying to rule Malawi ''from the back door.''

In response to his resignation from the party, the UDF issued a statement calling for the president to consider resigning from office.

''We ask you Mr. President to consider resigning from the high office of the president of the state so that you can seek fresh mandate from the electorate,'' said UDF spokesman Kennedy Makwangala.

In a speech at events marking national Anti-Corruption Day on Saturday, wa Mutharika said he could no longer work with the party.

''Over the past six or seven months, my party—the UDF—has relentlessly fought against me,'' he said. ''The UDF believes that corruption must continue; the party condones corruption.''

Since he took office in May, wa Mutharika's anti-graft campaign has also seen the arrest of senior UDF officials on fraud and corruption charges.

Director of Public Prosecution Ishmael Wadi has said six former senior ministers are being investigated for the disappearance of more than $93 million of government funds.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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