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Malawi's president completes cabinet, brings in opposition leaderPublish Date: Jun 23, 2014
Malawi's president completes cabinet, brings in opposition leader
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Malawi’s newly elected President Peter Mutharika delivers his first State of The Nation address marking the opening of the 45th session of the Malawian Parliament on June 17, 2014 in Lilongwe. AFP PHOTO
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BLANTYRE - Malawi's President Peter Mutharika completed naming his 20-member cabinet overnight, bringing in a prominent opposition leader more than a month after chaotic elections that brought him to office.

The completed cabinet includes United Democratic Front presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi, who came in fourth in the disputed May ballot and was named as minister of natural resources, energy and mining.

A son of a former president, Muluzi becomes the only opposition lawmaker in Mutharika's cabinet.The 36-year-old briefly worked as economic planning minister under ex-leader Joyce Banda before he quit to pursue his presidential bid.

Naming his 20-member cabinet in dribs and drabs, Mutharika first appointed the finance minister three weeks ago, then last week released nine names before completing the entire team around midnight.

He has tapped former finance minister Goodall Gondwe,78, to resume his position and brought back several other old faces who worked under the administration of his sibling Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in 2012.

"The president has lived to his word to have a cabinet of not more than 20 ministers and deputies in order to cut costs," state house press officer Justice Mponda, told AFP after releasing the new full list.

Mutharika, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has combined the defence ministry to his portfolio.

Vice President Saulos Chilima will also be responsible for the 170,000-strong civil service and parastatals.

The President has also named former and veteran state secretary Bright Msaka as Minister of lands, housing and urban development.

The whole cabinet has only two deputies - Vincent Ngambi for education and Jampi Mhango at defence.

The finance minister Gondwe, a former official at the International Monetary Fund, will present his budget in September, instead of the traditional July to allow more time for wide consultations.

Donors, who bankroll up to 40 percent of the country's development budget, have suspended aid worth $150 million until the government cleans up the mess after more than $30 million was looted from state coffers in six months in the Cashgate scandal during Banda's era.

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