Former president Joyce Banda withdraws from Malawi presidential race

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MALAWI’S former president Joyce Banda announced her withdrawal from the presidential race and pledged to support main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera in the May 21 general elections.

The announcement comes only days after Banda, who ruled Malawi between 2012 and 2014 after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika, presented nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission in Blantyre to stand on her Peoples Party (PP) ticket.

In a joint statement, the two parties announced that ‘the decision has been reached after having Malawi’s greater and common good. Malawi is bigger than individuals. As such we all have to set aside individual aspirations and embrace the greater and common good.’

At a news conference in Lilongwe, PP secretary general Ibrahim Matola said the PP fully supports the decision to drum up support for MCP’s Chakwera.

‘This decision was taken by Peoples Party national executive committee. We fully support Dr Joyce Banda’s decision to work with the MCP,’ Matola said.

Earlier, PP had announced an alliance with estranged Malawi’s vice-president Saulosi Chilima but Banda made a u-turn and announced she would go it alone.

After losing the presidency to incumbent Peter Mutharika during the 2014 tripartite elections, Banda left for the United States where she lived for nearly four years.

Banda was expelled from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after refusing to endorse Mutharika (the incumbent) as DPP torch bearer. She went to form the PP but came third during the 2014 elections.

Key contenders in this year’s election include the incumbent Mutharika, Chakwera, Chilima and United Democratic Front Atupele Muluzi, a minister in Mutharika’s administration. The UDF is in a working alliance with the DPP. It remains to be seen if Muluzi, son to former president Bakili Muluzi would contest in the presidential race.

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