Bakili Muluzi

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Bakili Muluzi : biography

March 17, 1943 –

Elson Bakili Muluzi (Machinga, born March 17, 1943) is a Malawian politician. He was the President of Malawi from 1994 to 2004 and was Chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF) until 2009.

Personal life

Muluzi is Malawi’s first Muslim President. He was married to two wives Annie Chidzira Muluzi and Patricia Shanil Muluzi while in office. He went through a divorce where he married Shanil Muluzi after divorcing Anne Muluzi. He has children, including Austin Atupele Muluzi. He is father-in-law to Angela Zachepa.


Muluzi was the candidate of the opposition UDF in the May 1994 presidential election, the country’s first multiparty election. He won the election with 47% of the vote, defeating Malawi’s leader since independence, Hastings Kamuzu Banda. He was re-elected in June 1999, taking 52.4% of the vote and defeating challenger Gwanda Chakuamba who was the leader of the opposition movement., African Elections Database. In 2002 he proposed an amendment to Malawi’s constitution that would have allowed him to run for a third term, but this was abandoned due to the move being blocked by the National Assembly of Malawi Members of Parliament, courts, and demonstrations against him. After serving two terms, he therefore handed over power to his successor after the May 2004 election, in which UDF candidate Bingu wa Mutharika (who was handpicked and groomed by Muluzi) was elected to succeed Muluzi as President.

Muluzi came to lead the UDF after leaving the Banda government, and he became an advocate for democracy. Muluzi’s time as President was marred by controversy and scandal, particularly due to the sale of Malawi’s reserves of maize to other countries shortly before the onset of a drought, which resulted in famine throughout the country. Despite international pressure, the millions of dollars realized from the sale of Malawi’s food reserves have never been turned over, and it is widely suspected that it wound up in foreign accounts belonging to Muluzi and his supporters.


Even with the controversy and questionable dealings, Muluzi was a popular leader, particularly in southern part of the country. He remains the Chairman of the UDF, and after a dispute with his successor as President, Mutharika, the latter left the UDF and formed his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in February 2005., BBC News, February 10, 2005. In April 2005, Muluzi apologized to Malawians for choosing Mutharika as his successor "and imposing him on the country"., BBC News, April 5, 2005.

On July 27, 2006, Muluzi was arrested on fraud and corruption charges;Raphael Tenthani, , Associated Press (IOL), July 27, 2006. he was released on bail later that day. Hours after his arrest, the chief investigator Gustav Kaliwo was suspended by President Mutharika, BBC News, July 28, 2006. and Director of Public Prosecutions Ishmael Wadi said he had no choice but to drop the charges. Dr. Bakili Muluzi was once more arrested on 26 February 2009 and initially charged with 86 counts of corruption and abuse of office. He is being accused of allegedly diverting 1.7 billion Malawi Kwacha (US$11m) of donor money into his personal account. The said money, among others, came from the Republic of China, the Kingdom of Morocco and Libya., Afrique en ligne.

2009 presidential candidacy

In early March 2007, with many prominent members of the UDF calling for Muluzi to run for president in 2009, the party said that he would have until March 11 to declare whether he intended to run.Steven Pembamoyo Banda and Emmanuel Muwamba, , The Nation (Malawi), March 5, 2007. Accordingly, on that date Muluzi announced that he would seek the party’s nomination as its presidential candidate.Mabvuto Banda, , Reuters (IOL), March 12, 2007. The question of whether Muluzi is eligible to run again has raised some controversy. Because the constitution refers to a limit of two consecutive terms, this could be regarded as enabling Muluzi to run again after being out of office for a term.Anthony Kasunda, , The Nation (Malawi), March 11, 2007.