Mutharika regrets JB’s snub in power handover: Muluzi cheered

Malawian President Professor Peter Mutharika on Monday expressed regret that his predecessor Joyce Banda “declined” to come at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre to hand over the reins of power.

Spokesman of the former president, Tusekele Mwanyongo, said Banda after winning 20.2% of the votes compared with Mutharika’s 36.4% was “resting” in Nkhatabay.

Mwanyongo said the immediate former president was not required by the Constitution to “physically be available at the inauguration.”

 Dr Bakili Muluzi, former Veep Khumbo Kachali and Justin Malewezi among notable guests at Peter Mutharika inauguration

Dr Bakili Muluzi, former Veep Khumbo Kachali and Justin Malewezi among notable guests at Peter Mutharika inauguration

But President Mutharika said Banda absence sent wrong signals.

“I regret that my predecessor has declined to come here to hand over power to me,” said Mutharika in his inaugural speech before thousands of people.

“I was looking forward to shake her hands and bury the past,” he added. “I came with olive branch to my branch. You know what I have gone through, I was accused of treason my family suffered, Bingu’s children were victimised but that is now the past. I ask everybody in joining me to rebuild Malawi. I have no intention of vengeance but those who have broken the law will face the full course of justice.”

The inauguration was attended by international dignitaries including Botswana President Ian Khama and Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi who ruled from 1994 to 2004, former vice president Justin Malewezi and outgoing vice president Khumbo Kachali.

Chancellor College of the University of Malawi (Unima) political scientist, Dr. Mustapha Hussein said Banda‘s absence was “unfortunate” development.

“Malawian will misinterprets it as sign of lack of unity or holding grudges,” he said.

Added Hussein: “One would have expected her presence handing over the reins of power. “

Meanwhile, after the function when the President and Vice President Saulos Chilima left, people including supporters of ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cheered former president Muluzi when he was leaving.

They chanted “Atchair! Atchair!” Muluzi smiled and waved as loud cheers and whistling echoed through the stadium.

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