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June 12, 2014

Spokesman Denies Malawi's Banda Refused to Officially Hand Over Power

by Peter Clottey

The spokesman for Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda has denied reports that Banda refused to officially hand over power to newly elected President Peter Mutharika during last week’s installation ceremony in the commercial capital, Blantyre.

Some civil society groups expressed concern about Banda’s apparent “lack of leadership” for refusing to symbolically hand over power to Mutharika.

But, Tusekele Mwanyongo says the former president could not travel from the capital, Lilongwe, to Blantyre after authorities took away her convoy that would enable her to make the trip to the installation ceremony.

“Former president Dr. Joyce Banda did not refuse to officially hand over power to the new president Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika,” said Mwanyongo. “[She] has her official presidential convoy withdrawn the very first morning that the results were announced. So, she had no transport to travel to Blantyre. That’s why she did not attend that ceremony.”

Billy Mayaya, a civil society activist said the former president missed an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that Malawi remains united in spite of the existing political differences and the controversy surrounding the outcome of last month’s tripartite election.

Mutharika was also disappointed that Banda turned down the opportunity to hand over power to him.

In his speech shortly after his inauguration Monday, local media quoted Mutharika as saying, “I regret that my predecessor has declined to come here to hand over power to me… I was looking forward to shake her hands and bury the past. I came with olive branch. 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.”

But, Tusekele Mwanyongo denied Banda is nursing her wounds following her electoral defeat in the tripartite election.

“Former president Banda is not wallowing in any despair in terms of how the whole process went on,” said Mwanyongo.

He says the former president is resting following what he said was the grueling campaigning period in the run up to the May 20 vote.

In an open letter published in local newspapers, Banda says she did not see herself as losing the recent presidential vote, but a change of season and approach.
 
Clottey intv with Tusekele Mwanyongo, Mrs Joyce Banda's spokesman