President Peter Mutharika on Friday left the country for Britain to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018 which will be held from April 16 to 20 in London amid calls for him to retire the end of his current five-year term and allow his Vice-President Saulos Chilima to succeed him.
Mutharika, who was welcomed by Chilima as soon as he arrived at Kamuzu International Airport, could not comment on the issue, ignited by former First Lady Callista Chilima, an issue that is causing friction in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
DPP supporters, including women clad in party clothes, thronged the airport in strong support of the President
and a show that the issue has not divided the party.
Chilima has not yet commented on the matter either.
President Mutharika, undertaking the foreign trip after nine months, said it was important for him to go attend the Chogm summit, saying crucial issues would be tabled.
“I usually delegate meetings to my Foreign Affairs minister or any other minister as a cost cutting measure, this is why my last foreign trip was nine months ago when I went to the UN but this is one is very important, I could not delegate it,” said Mutharika answering questions from the state controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation reporter.
Journalists from other private media were not given a chance to ask the President questions.
On the agenda are pressing issues such as the reinforcement of cooperation in various areas, united efforts to deal with security issies, organised crime, cyber criminality, climate change, good governance, promotion of democracy and fundamental liberties.
He said apart from the Commonwealth summit, he would attend to crucial meetings on malaria control, human trafficking, security issues and present five key note addresses before proceeding to Scotland for an official visit.
Malawi leader is also expected to address the Scottish parliament.
Mutharika’s in-law, former first lady Callista Mutharika, broke the message on a social media platform WhatsApp last week before owning it up in interviews on Capital Radio and Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) that ththe 79-year-old Mutharika should retire at the end of his current five-year term and allow his 45-year-old Vice-President Saulos Chilima to contest on the governing DPP’s ticket
DPP deputy publicity secretary Zeria Chakale said the party has not contacted Callista over her remarks but said the former first lady should shut up and keep the personal opinions to herself, particularly since the President has not complained of failing to deliver on his promises because of old age.
“We want to assure Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his vice Dr. Saulosi Klaus Chilima that women in DPP will not allow anyone to divide the party. And we will always make sure that we work together towards the 2019 Tripartite Elections and win with a landslide,” declared Chakale at the news conference.
Lawmaker Bon Kalindo and the director of the youth in the party Lewis Ngalande are some of the few DPP officials who have come in support of Callista.
The two have said Callista Mutharika’s call for change of leadership was a true reflection on the ground and they are many in that movement.
“Some people that have surrounded the President are fooling him, they are telling him that everything is rosy, but that is not right. He has been surrounded by crocodiles in the party and at State House who want to satisfy their potbellies. People are leaving us on the ground, so we need to field an energetic candidate in the name of Saulos Chilima,” said Kalindo in an interview aired on Zodiak radio.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :