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Malawi president dissolves cabinet after new alliance

Mutharika is attempting to quash the fresh election that would require him to win more than a 50% majority to secure a second term.

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika. Picture: @MalawiGovt/Twitter

BLANTYRE - Malawi's President Peter Mutharika on Friday dissolved his cabinet, the latest political move after his May re-election was annulled over vote-rigging.

In a landmark ruling last month the Constitutional Court ordered officials to hold a fresh presidential poll within 150 days.

Mutharika is attempting to quash the fresh election that would require him to win more than a 50 percent majority to secure a second term.

He has filed an appeal against the court's decision to nullify election results that had declared him the winner with just 35.8 percent of the vote.

The unexpected dissolution of cabinet was announced in a statement by government chief secretary Lloyd Muhara.

Until the appointment of a new cabinet, all ministerial powers, functions and responsibilities will be exercised by the president.

"He is just exercising discretionary powers to hire a new cabinet," Mutharika's spokesman Mgeme Kalilani told AFP.

But both analysts and the opposition believe the move was made to accommodate another opposition party, the United Democratic Front, which formed an electoral alliance with Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party last week.

"He needs to make a campaign cabinet," said Henry Chingaipe, a political analyst with local thinktank the Institute for Policy Research and Social Empowerment.

Main opposition Malawi Congress Party spokesman Maurice Munthali said Mutharika was acting to please his new allies.

"If that is the route that a president takes, then it is dangerous because you don’t run a government (by) appeasing people," said Munthali.

"You have to run the government in a way that benefits the people of the country."

The annulled vote marks the first time a presidential election has been challenged on legal grounds in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964.

It is only the second poll result to be cancelled in Africa after the 2017 Kenya presidential vote.