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Politics of Malawi

The Government of Malawi has been a multi-party democracy since 1994. Under the 1995 constitution, the president, who is both chief of state and head of the government, is chosen through universal direct suffrage every 5 years. Malawi has a vice president who is elected with the president. The president has the option of appointing a second vice president, who must be from a different party. The members of the presidentially appointed cabinet can be drawn from either within or outside of the legislature. Malawi's National Assembly has 193 seats, all directly elected to serve 5-year terms. The constitution also provides for a second house, a Senate of 80 seats, but to date no action has been taken to create the Senate. The Senate is intended to provide representation for traditional leaders and the different geographical districts, as well as various special interest groups, such as women, youth, and the disabled.

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Malawi's judicial system, based on the English model, is made up of magisterial lower courts, a High Court, and a Supreme Court of Appeal. Local government is carried out in 27 districts within three regions administered by regional administrators and district commissioners who are appointed by the central government. Local elections, the first in the multi-party era, took place in on November 21, 2000. The UDF party won 70% of the seats in this election.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
conventional short form: Malawi
former: Nyasaland

Data code: MI

Government type: multiparty democracy

Capital: Lilongwe

Administrative divisions: 24 districts; Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba
note: there may be three new districts named Balaka, Likoma, and Phalombe

Independence: 6 July 1964 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day 6 July (1964); Republic Day 6 July (1966)

Constitution: 18 May 1995

Legal system: based on English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: 28-member cabinet named by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 15 June 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: Bakili MULUZI reelected president; percent of vote - Bakili MULUZI (UDF) 51.4%, Gwandaguluwe CHAKUAMBA (MCP-AFORD) 44.3%

Legislative branch: National Assembly (193 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 15 June 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - UDF 48%, MCP 34%, AFORD 15%, others 3%; seats by party - UDF 93, MCP 66, AFORD 29, others 4, vacancy 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Appeal; High Court, chief justice appointed by the president, puisne judges appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission; magistrate's courts

Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Democracy or AFORD [Chakufwa CHIHANA, president]; Malawi Congress Party or MCP [Gwanda CHAKUAMBA, president, John TEMBO, vice president]; Malawi Democratic Party or MDP [Kampelo KALUA, president]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Eston KAKHOME, president]; United Democratic Front or UDF [Bakili MULUZI] - governing party

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Willie CHOKANI
chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1007

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Amelia Ellen SHIPPY
embassy: address NA, in new development area in Lilongwe
mailing address: P. O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
telephone: [265] 783 166
FAX: [265] 780 471

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centered in the black band

Government - note: the executive exerts considerable influence over the legislature

See also : Malawi



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