[JURIST] The Malawi [government website; BBC country profile] state security organization has put under surveillance the three-judge panel determining whether former President Bakili Muluzi [BBC profile] is eligible to run for another term as president, according to a Friday report by the Nyasa Times. The report included a statement from an officer with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a branch of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) [official profile], who said the surveillance was normal and that it included monitoring bank accounts as well as tapping their phone lines. The legal action [Nation Online report] was brought before the Constitutional Court [VOA report] by a member of Muluzi's United Democratic Front Party (UDF), James Phiri, who is arguing that Malawi's Constitution [PDF text] does not allow a person to run for president if they have served for two consecutive terms. The court is set to decide the issue on July 25.
Muluzi defeated president-for-life Kamuzu Banda in the country's first democratic election in 1994. He then served as President of the nation until 2004, when he failed in an attempt to amend the country's constitution to allow him to serve for a third term. He was able to turn over power to his hand-picked successor, President Bingu wa Mutharika [BBC News profile], but Murtharika later defected from Muluzi's United Democratic Front party and formed his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) [official website]. The two leaders have been involved in a number of legal troubles within the country in recent years, including corruption charges [JURIST report] which were later dropped [JURIST report] against Muluzi in July 2006, the arrest of Malawi Vice President Cassim Chilumpha [official profile] on charges of treason for allegedly attempting to assassinate the President in April 2006, and impeachment proceedings [JURIST report] against the President in 2005 based on allegations that he misused public funds and abused his presidential role.