- The government of Malawi is once again holed up in a crisis with the parliament over the approval of the national budget.
A similar crisis, fueled by political brouhaha between the executive and lawmakers, nearly put the government's functions at a complete standstill last year. President Bingu wa Mutharika had reportedly threatened to deploy soldiers to seal the parliamentary building if lawmakers remain defiant.
Malawian lawmakers have only ten days to discuss and pass the 2008/9 national budget. Though deadline ends on Friday, but the opposition parties have threatened to reject the budget unless the government append its signature on a memorandum of understanding that seeks to narrow the political gap between the opposition and government in parliament.
George Nga Ntafu, who leads the opposition United Democratic Front in parliament, on Monday expressed their readiness to ignore the government's demands to pass this year's budget based on President Mutharika's terms.
"Unless our counterparts in the government side, who seem to be reluctant to sign the final MOU given to us by the mediation team, we will not approve and pass the budget," he vowed.
However, Henry Chimunthu Banda, who leads the government bench, ruled out the signing of the final MOU as condition to approve the budget. Banda said the budget affair must not be linked to the the agreement on Section 65 of Malawi's constitution, which outlaws members from crosscarpeting.
"The government side wanted the budget to be discussed and approved without any interruption and
then deal with Section 65 later," he said.
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