President sacks his cabinet to appease aid donors

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President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi sacked his entire cabinet yesterday and decided to rule alone, after high-ranking officials were accused of corruption.

President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi sacked his entire cabinet yesterday and decided to rule alone, after high-ranking officials were accused of corruption.

In a move aimed at placating foreign donors, including Britain, President Muluzi's office earlier this week offered for sale 39 S-class Mercedes cars worth £1.8m which were ordered last month for government officials to replace a still-gleaming 1995 fleet. A statement said the money would go to development projects for the poor; around 80 per cent of Malawi's 10.3 million people are estimated to live on less than 70p a day.

"The cabinet is dissolved. Functions of government departments revert to the office of the president," it was announced in the capital, Lilongwe. But the opposition Malawi Congress Party - which recently began a nationwide tour of "corruption rallies" to highlight graft in high places - said President Muluzi's officials should be prosecuted.

The sacking of the cabinet came two days after the publication of a report into corruption, ordered after pressure from Britain and other donors. It had been alleged that in the run-up to last year's election, Malawi's education ministry gave £1.2m in fictitious building contracts to supporters of the President who, in turn, donated the money to his campaign.

Britain's annual aid package to Malawi amounts to £70m.

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