LILONGWE—The former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Monday it will “vigorously pursue” in accordance with the law parliamentarians who left the party
and moved to the government side in the national assembly.
“The DPP will vigorously pursue all those that run and won on our ticket,” said the party’s leader in parliament George Chaponda. “Those who won as independent and later joined the DPP aren't affected.”
Chaponda said the Speaker has the power to declare vacant seats of the affected MPs using Section 65 of the country's Constitution.
The party reaffirmed its position in the matter after submitting a fresh petition to the Speaker of Parliament requesting him to declare vacant six more seats. The party has since June asked for a total of 51 seats to be declared vacant.
Chaponda said MPs who have since returned to DPP are no longer being pursued by the party.
“We had 45 names; others came back so we reduced to 39,” he said.
Following the death of Pres Bingu wa Mutharika in April, DPP, which controlled over two-thirds of the seats in parliament, lost MPs to the new governing People’s Party of Joyce Banda – she remained the country’s vice president after her expulsion from DPP in 2010 over leadership squabbles - others declared themselves independent.
When PP assumed power, the party only had five MPs including the president. All of them once belonged to DPP.
During the 2009 elections, from the 193-seat national assembly, DPP won 112 seats while the rest were shared among Independents, Malawi Congress Party, United Democratic Front, Alliance for Democracy, Maravi People’s Party and Mafunde. The majority of Independent MPs joined DPP, bringing its total number of MPs to 145.
When parliament first met after Mutharika’s death, the new government side had 109 MPs, courtesy of DPP defectors.
Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda confirmed on Monday receiving a new DPP petition seeking his decision on the party’s MPs. He however couldn’t shed light on the fate of the party’s earlier petitions.
Critics have accused the Speaker of failing to exercise his duty as stipulated by the law.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.