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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 15:03 GMT
Malawi leader settles into palace
Bingu wa Mutharika
Mutharika says he needs a residence with enough space
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has moved into a palace outside the capital, Lilongwe, which previously housed the country's parliament.

Mr Mutharika's decision to settle into the 300-room palace caused outrage when it was announced in July.

Most of the parliament's staff are now based at a nearby venue belonging to a merchant bank, but MPs are still seeking a debating chamber.

Parliamentary committees have been holding their meetings in a motel.

The presidential palace was built at a cost of $100m by former President Hastings Kamuzu Banda - but he only stayed there for 90 days.

Besides hundreds of air-conditioned rooms, it has its own school and supermarket.

Parliament moved into the venue in 1995.

Mr Mutharika said he wanted to move from his Blantyre residence to Lilongwe, as part of attempts to streamline government operations.

But the opposition says the decision runs against his promises to cut government expenditure.

MPs have rejected the idea of moving to a sports stadium and have been searching for new premises.

Mr Mutharika was elected in a bitterly contested poll in May.




SEE ALSO:
Malawian leader to boot out MPs
21 Jul 04 |  Africa
Malawi president gains majority
18 Jun 04 |  Africa
Country profile: Malawi
09 Nov 04 |  Country profiles



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