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June 05, 2014

Malawi President Mutharika to Meet Opposition Candidates

by Peter Clottey

Malawi’s new President Peter Mutharika plans to next week meet with all losing opposition candidates in the May 20 tripartite elections, according to Nicholas Dausi, spokesman for the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP).

Some of the losing candidates include former president Joyce Banda of the People’s Party (PP), Atupele Muluzi from the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

But, some analysts say it is unlikely Banda will be part of the meeting after she refused to symbolically hand over power or attend Mutharika’s official inauguration ceremony last Monday.

Dausi says Mutharika seeks to meet the former president despite the possibility that she might decline the offer.

“The former president is still nursing the shock defeat [and] it’s understandable. But it remains President Arthur Peter Mutharika’s intention to meet [former] president Joyce Banda. So that together they can talk [about] issues, iron out differences and forget about the past and move forward, as one people, as one nation,” said Dausi.

Dausi says Mutharika wants to meet the former president to resolve any tensions as part of a reconciliation measure to unite the country. He says the president will seek advice and opinions from his opponents about the way forward to resolve the country’s myriad challenges.

“He wants to see how best Malawian problems can be resolved how best we can salvage our country from its total collapse,” said Dausi. “By getting [a] diversity of ideas, it is believed that the president will make a wider consultation to get view points from various political leaders who contested. In that way, in unity though in diversity, we can develop our country.”

The new president faces economic challenges since 40 percent of Malawi’s budget comes from international donors.

Dausi acknowledged the enormity of the task ahead of the new administration. However he expressed hope that Mutharika could come with solutions to resolve the challenges.

“Man-made problems have man-made solutions, and we believe that with the donor cooperation and with our cooperating partners, with very brave and brazen financial discipline,” said Dausi. “If we can deal with corruption lethargy and incompetence in government places, if we can resolve the maladministration, if we can deal with mediocrity…only then can we develop our country,’ said Dausi.

Dausi says Mutharika has begun consultations to soon establish a “lean” cabinet, which he says will be mostly technocrats.

“The president is going to announce who is going to be in [the] cabinet and that will be a lean one in view of our financial standing,” he said.

Malawi’s Electoral Commission declared opposition leader Mutharika winner of the presidential vote in the May 20 tripartite elections.