English Africa Service -Vatican City
Malawi’s new President, Rev Dr Lazarus Chakwera, has said his government will be one that serves and not a government that rules. Associated Press quoted Chakwera calling for reconciliation in his inaugural speech held in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
A home for all to prosper
“Perhaps the prospect of my presidency fills you with fear and grief. I want you to remember one thing, that this new Malawi is home to you, too,” said Chakwera. “So long as I am its President, it will be a home in which you, too, will prosper.” Chakwera won with 58.57% of votes cast, beating the incumbent President Peter Mutharika, according to official results announced by the Malawi Electoral Commission Saturday night. There were night-long celebrations in the cities and towns across the country.
A call for national reconciliation
Chakwera is Malawi’s sixth president after winning the historic election held last week, the first time a court-overturned vote in Africa has resulted in the defeat of an incumbent leader. Following a hard-fought campaign, Chakwera urged national reconciliation in his inaugural speech in the capital, Lilongwe, and spoke directly to supporters of defeated incumbent President Peter Mutharika. Chakwera, 65, said it was an honour to stand before the inaugural crowd as their President. “It’s an honour that feels me with unspeakable joy and immense gratitude. It’s an honour forged in the furnace of your desire and your demand for change,” he said.
Court annulled first election due to irregularities
Chakwera’s election came after months of determined street protests against the results of the election more than a year ago, in May 2019, in which Mutharika had been declared the winner. The Constitutional Court struck down the results, citing widespread irregularities including the use of correction fluid on ballots. It was just the second time in Africa that a court has overturned a presidential election, following a ruling on Kenya’s vote in 2017.
The Malawi Human Right Commission, one of the observers, endorsed the rerun election as peaceful and transparent. The defeated incumbent Mutharika criticised the election rerun as “the worst in Malawi’s history," but he urged the country to “move on peacefully” speaking to the media in Blantyre on Saturday.
Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party issued a statement on Saturday calling on the electoral commission to annul the results of the second vote and declare a third election. Mutharika did not call for that when he spoke to the press.
Chakwera calls for magnanimity as winners celebrate
Acknowledging the discontent of Mutharika’s supporters, Chakwera asked them in his inaugural speech to give him a chance to earn their trust and to make his election a win for all Malawians. “Those of you that celebrate, celebrate with a humanness that all Malawians deserve so that we have the magnanimity of celebrating a victory that is not for one man, not for one woman, not for one party, not for one group, but for all of us together,” said Chakwera. “That is how we will fulfil the dream of a new Malawi that will be for everyone.”
(source: AP; Additional reporting, Vatican News Correspondent)