Malawian President Peter Mutharika surprised political commentators when he recognised Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera during salutations before reading the state of the nation address.
Mutharika also shook hands with Chakwera outside the chamber just before Mutharika delivered the one and half hour sona.
However, the state controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) failed to acknowledge the presence of Chakwera among the dignataries that welcomed Mutharika at the parliament building on Friday in Lilongwe.
Others who lined up to welcome the Head of State included Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya who is also the MCP vice president and Kondwani Nankhumwa, Leader of the House and campaign director in the ruling Democratic Progress Party.
This is the first time in a year or more that Mutharika has recognised Chakwera at a function.
Mutharika calculately avoids mentioning the name Chakwera during presidentiaal functions.
Chakwera is a vocal critic of Mutharika and his administration and seen as a close contender to Mutharika during the 2019 general election.
Among other things, Mutharika praised the graft busting body for doing a good job in the past year. He said the Anti-Corruption Bureau investigated 200 cases last year out of which 160 were completed.
However, President Mutharika is facing fierce criticisms from political observers and commentators who feel ACB does selective justice, they easily arrest and prosecute opposition members and critics of government leaving out ruling party members. Mutharika has time and again trashed these allegations.