Malawi's opposition-dominated Parliament summoned President Bingu wa Mutharika to appear next Thursday for the start of impeachment proceedings. Lawmakers loyal to the president stormed out in protest Friday, accusing parliamentary speaker Louis Chimango of flouting established rules by admitting a motion from an opposition lawmaker on a day set aside for government business.
Chimango had informed the 193-member parliament that an opposition lawmaker had notified him that he had prepared eight grounds to indict the president, including abuse of power and misuse of funds.
Constitutional Affairs Minister Henry Dama Phoya described the events as "a sad day in the history of Parliament in Malawi," and said the president would likely ignore the summons.
It was the latest salvo in a growing feud between the president and his predecessor, Bakili Muluzi, who hand-picked wa Mutharika to succeed him. Wa Mutharika dumped his party in February, accusing powerful politicians of blocking his anti-corruption drive. His supporters say the impeachment drive is motivated purely by lust for revenge.
Muluzi was due to appear before the country's anti-corruption unit on Monday to answer questions about the source of his huge personal wealth in one of the world's poorest countries, according to the AP.
Parliament adopted procedures late Tuesday for impeachment, filling a gap in the country's constitution, which provides for the removal of a president without specifying how this should be done.
Malawi's neighbors and foreign donors have expressed concern the political wrangling could destabilize the region and hinder aid to millions of hungry Malawians. An estimated 5 million of the 12 million population is expected to need food aid before the next harvest in February because of crop failure compounded by high rates of HIV/AIDS which have devastated the rural work force.
Wa Mutharika, a 71-year-old former economist, has won widespread credit among donor governments and agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for trying to push through economic reforms and stamp out corruption.