- In power since 2014, Malawi’s current head of state, Peter Mutharika, was controversially re-elected in May 2019.
- “We have a date with destiny,” said Chakwera, a retired Baptist preacher, addressing supporters.
- Nine candidates are expected to participate in the July elections, with the current President set to present his nomination papers on Thursday.
The leader of Malawi’s main opposition party, Lazarus Chakwera, officially presented his presidential candidacy nomination papers Wednesday for the presidential election scheduled for July 2, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Chakwera is the presidential flag-bearer of Malawi’s united opposition, under the banner of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
His running-mate is the country’s former Vice-President, Saulos Klaus Chilima, of the United Transformation Movement (UTM) party. The duo presented their nomination papers to Malawi’s electoral commission, (MEC) in a ceremony full of pomp and color, witnessed by thousands of their supporters at Blantyre’s Soche International Conference on Wednesday.
In power since 2014, Malawi’s current head of state, Peter Mutharika, was controversially re-elected in May 2019, in the first round of the presidential polls. As announced by the Electoral Commission, Mutharika won 38.5% of the votes against Chakwera’s 35.4%. However, the country’s opposition rejected the results, alleging foul play by the electoral commission in favor of the sitting president.
They moved to the country’s Supreme Court, which analyzed the presented evidence, and in February 2020, overturned Mutharika’s victory, based on “blatant fraud,” and ordered new elections, to be held on July 2. Mutharika appealed this decision, and it is pending a court decision soon.
Chilima recently withdrew his candidacy for the presidency to join hands in a united opposition against his former boss, the country’s current president, Mutharika. Noting that vice presidents in Malawi have before been subjected to slander, mistreatment, and underutilization by their bosses, Chakwera said that Chilima has been courageous to confront Mutharika. “God has given us Dr Chilima whose courage has confronted this disease and answered the call to cure it on behalf of Malawians, and that is destiny,” said Chakwera.
In the previous presidential election held last year, Chilima finished third with 20.2% of the vote. “We have a date with destiny,” said Chakwera, a retired Baptist preacher, addressing supporters. “Many dark forces have labored to prevent this election but they have failed,” he said. “Our destiny is a new Malawi that benefits everyone.”
“This is what has brought me and Saulos together,” Chakwera added. “Not as rivals but as partners in the service of Malawi.” The former pastor stressed, “our destiny is a new Malawi that benefits everyone, this is what we deserve.” He added, “God has given this alliance of nine parties to tear down the wall that divide us and build the bridges that will unite us.”
The opposition Tonse Alliance is comprised of nine political parties, including People’s Party of the country’s ex-president, Joyce Banda (2012-2014). The alliance’s other parties include the Freedom Party, Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), Umodzi Party, Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and People’s Transformation (Petra).
Nine candidates are expected to participate in the July elections, with the current President set to present his nomination papers on Thursday. To date, Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, has recorded a total of 38 cases of infection with the new coronavirus, including three deaths.
Globally, according to a report on the news agency AFP, the pandemic of COVID -19 has caused more than 254,000 dead and infected nearly 3.6 million people in 195 countries and territories.