Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, runner-up in the presidential race, did not attend the inauguration ceremony of President Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Monday because he was not officially invited, his party has said.
MCP secretary general Gustav Kaliwo said Chakwera – who has expressed reservations with the legitimacy of Mutharika’s election from a chaotic elections – was not invited to the ceremony and did not want to gate-crash.
“Our president was not invited that is why he did not attend the ceremony. It is not nice to gate-crash at events,” said Kaliwo.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of elections Kondwani Nankhumwa, who was in the organising committee for the inauguration ceremony, said Chakwera, had been invited as was Mutharika’s predecessor Joyce Banda, first multiparty president Bakili Muluzi and former vice-presidents Justin Malewezi, Cassim Chilumpha and Khumbo Kachali.
Apart from Chakwera, seven others who contested in the presidential race shunned the inauguration ceremony which was dominated by ruling DPP supporters.
However, former president Bakili Muluzi in a statesman spirit graced the occasion as well as former vice-presidents Justin Malewezi and Khumbo Kachali.
Presidential contestants who attended included Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF), who finished fourth, Helen Singh of United Independence Party (UIP) and Friday Jumbe of the National Labour Party (NLP).
In his speech, President Mutharika said he would invite the losing presidential candidates to one-on-one meetings to share ideas on how to develop the country.
“I have extended a hand of reconciliation to my colleagues who contested for this highest office. I offer them a new way of doing politics in Malawi: respect, consultation, integrity and honesty,” he said.
According to Mutharika, DPP has changed.
“This is a new DPP. This is a new government. Everything we will do will be in the best interest of Malawians,” he said.
Mutharika, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and blue tie, entered the stadium in a Landrover, waving a blue hat to a cheering crowdFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :