Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Malawi - Democracy Or Revenge?

Former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi has been arrested on charges of corruption. The former leader left office in 2004, handing over to Bingu wa Mutharika, his chosen successor.

What is interesting about this development is to look at it from a Democratic angle.

Firstly let's be to the point and say that Muluzi was no Democrat. He tried to change the constitution to allow him that infamous, 'extra term to finish off his good work' - a symptom that many African Presidents suffer from. Amongst the chaos of an angry public and church, the Head of State barred demonstrations and forced some MP's into hiding. Yet eventually Muluzi accepted his fate and rather oddly gave the Presidency to Mutharika.

The new Head of State had previously ran against his predecessor and had even formed a rival party before deciding to join the President's UDF party. Clearly Muluzi didn't believe such past behaviour, strongly indicating a dislike for the President and a desire to remove him from power, would come back to bite him on the nose. It's on a similar par to Mugabe allowing Tsvangirai the Zimbabwean Presidency and then being suprised when he winds up in a police station a few years later. If anything the 40 charges of Corruption that have been levied against the ex-President are deserved. Not very calculating for a so-called Autocrat Muluzi...

So are these charges based upon a desire to clean up politics, or just an attempt to seek vengance upon a former rival?

Well the situation in Malawi is certainly complex. The UDF Party lost parliamentary elections and, with Mutharika setting up his own bloc, are now out of power. Therefore some sort of turn-over of faces has occurred in Malawi. But it's all been done in a shady fashion. Mutharika was not elected democratically. He managed to buy off one of his main rivals. How did the UDF respond? They tried to impeach Mutharika. Clearly this is not the stuff of Democracy but of a naked power struggle, occurring in some sort of bizzare quasi-legal battlefield.

As for how the Civil Rights situation has improved for Malawians since Mutharika took over? Look no further.


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