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State House backs judges’ diplomatic appointments

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Sean Kampondeni

The State House has defended President Lazarus Chakwera’s decision to appoint judges Agnes Patemba and Esmie Chombo to serve in foreign missions.

State House Press Secretary Brian Banda said this yesterday at the weekly State House briefing in Lilongwe.

Some legal minds, including the Malawi Law Society (MLS), queried the President’s decision.

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But Banda said the United Kingdom was Malawi’s strategic partner; as such; it was the President’s view to send “an expert in administration to beef up High Commission”.

He said Chakwera recently appointed several judges to the Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court, as well as magistrates; hence, choosing only two of them to go to diplomatic missions would not affect operations of the Judiciary.

“President Lazarus Chakwera has done much as far as the appointment of judges is concerned,” he said.

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He clarified that only Patemba was a serving judge while Chombo was retiring.

However, MLS indicated, in a statement, that appointing judges to serve as diplomats under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations would compromise independence of the Judiciary.

In another development, the State House downplayed claims by former president Peter Mutharika that the government had no clear policy direction.

Among other things, Mutharika told the media on Sunday that the Tonse Alliance-led government had failed to improve people’s lives.

However, State House Director of Communications Sean Kampondeni faulted Mutharika for claiming that there was a coup d’état that resulted in the change of government.

He said the Judiciary, which is regarded as independent and highly professional worldwide, made the call to rerun the presidential election, hence it was unfortunate that the former president was questioning its decisions.

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