BLANTYRE--Malawi President Joyce Banda has appointed High Court judge, Justice Maxon Mbendera, as the new Malawi Electoral Commission chairman replacing Supreme Court of Appeal judge, Justice Anastansia Msosa.
The Office of the President and Cabinet, in a statement issued Thursday evening, said Mbendera's appointment is with immediate effect.
Msosa, whose contract expired in September, had her last assignment supervising two by-elections in the northern district of Mzimba.
Mbendera, an astute lawyer, had a stint as the late Pres Bingu wa Mutharika's last Attorney General before President Banda replaced him with private practice lawyer and activist Ralph Kasambara immediately the 78-year-old economist-turned-politician's dropped dead from cardiac arrest on April 5.
As former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gurus schemed to prevent Banda from assuming office after Mutharika's sudden death Mbendera reportedly advised the DPP politburo to follow the constitution to letter and let the 62-year-old former entrepreneur take office.
The Malawi Constitution says when there is a vacancy in the office of the president through death, incapacity or resignation the vice-president takes over. But since Mutharika and Banda fell out over succession wrangles as the President wanted his younger brother, Washington State Prof. Peter Mutharika, to take over, Malawi's first female vice-president was expelled from the ruling party and she went own to found her own Peoples Party.
DPP apologists argued that that excluded her from taking over office since she was essentially an opposition leader.
But the army came to her side and after two days of uncertainty she was sworn in as Malawi's first female president on April 7.
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