June 14,2004

New cabinet of "National Unity" established

Soon after he assumed power, Wa Mutharika called for the formation of a government of national unity. The proposal has found favour among the opposition. The Republican Party (RP) and the Movement for Genuine Democratic Change have withdrawn a legal petition challenging the results of the 20 May poll, and agreed to team up with the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) to work together in the government. The opposition National Democratic Alliance also raised the possibility of working with the UDF-led government. He also appointed Hetherwick Ntaba as minister of health, a position he held in the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Ntaba was fired from the MCP just months before the May national poll and then founded his own party, the National Congress for Democracy (NCD), which worked with the UDF and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford), headed by former second vice president Chakufwa Chihana. Aford, a UDF alliance partner during the election, got six seats in parliament, while the NCD got none. Chihana will remain at the helm of the ministry of agriculture, irrigation and food security, while education will be headed by Yusuf Mwawa, previously Muluzi's minister of health. The RP of Gwanda Chakuamba, who led a seven-party opposition coalition in the election, was also given three ministerial posts. (IRIN)

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