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Peter Mutharika shakes Malawi Defence Force top tier

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By Serah Makondetsa:

President Peter Mutharika, who is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, has appointed Lieutenant General Vincent Nundwe as Commander of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF).

He replaces Griffin Spoon Phiri, now Mutharika’s National Security Adviser.

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Spoon Phiri’s appointment comes barely days after Mutharika appointed his first Cabinet for his second-term of office, a team of 24. This contradicts his campaign promise to keep his Cabinet lean by sticking to 20 members.

Spoon Phiri was first appointed as deputy commander in June 2014, barely a month after Mutharika assumed the presidency after his victory in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.

In 2016, Spoon Phiri replaced Ignancio Maulana as army chief.

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A statement issued Thursday evening, which Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara has signed, indicates that the appointment is with immediate effect.

“His excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, has made the following appointments: General Griffin Spoon Phiri has been appointed National Security Adviser, Lieutenant General Vincent Nundwe has been appointed Commander of the Malawi Defence Force and has been promoted to the rank of General. The appointments are with immediate effect,” the statement reads.

MDF spokesperson, Paul Chiphwanya, said this means what is remaining is the inauguration of Nundwe.

“I cannot say when the inauguration will be,” he said.

Since 2011, there have been frequent changes in army command after the then president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, appointed Henry Odillo as MDF chief, only for the incumbent to dismiss him in June 2014.

Before 2011, the army commander was Marko Chiziko, who served for close to eight years.

When Joyce Banda became President in April 2012, after Bingu’s death, she maintained Odillo for his supposed heroic feats when he stood with her after Bingu’s death.

It has been a busy week for Mutharika who, apart from appointing members of his Cabinet, shaking the ground at MDF and making his State of the Nation Address, also made parliamentary appointments where he appointed Kondwani Nankhumwa as Leader of the House, Martha Lunji Mhone Chanjo as Deputy Leader of the House, Symon Vuwa Kaunda as Government Chief Whip and Mary Thom Navitcha as Deputy Chief Whip.

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