By THE AFRICA BAZAAR Staff Writer
Malawi’s high court on Saturday swore in Peter Matharika, a former foreign minister and law professor, as the country’s newly elected president.
The inauguration came on the heels of the country’s electoral commission releasing the May 20 presidential election results after refusing to delay its release due to disputed election results and a call for a recount.
Since the election took place tensions and sporadic outbreaks of violence have dogged the country as supporters of the different parties took to the streets. The election results showed Matharika, 74, won with 36.4 percent of the votes. His main rival, the incumbent President Joyce Banda, conceded defeat after Malawi’s Electoral Commission announced the results Friday.
Banda urged the country to move forward and support the new president and his government as they take on his administration’s new agenda to develop Malawi further.
“Malawians should move forward as one nation, to remain united, to uphold the rule of law and continue being peaceful and calm as we head into the next 50 years of Malawi’s future,” he said.
Matharika, who was the brother of Malawi’s deceased President Bingu wa Mutharika–who died two years ago while in office–was also part of his brother’s administration, an administration that has been blamed for mismanaging the country’s economic assets.
Like some of his fellow African leaders facing charges, Malawi’s new president takes the country’s reins under controversial circumstances. He is facing charges for attempting to conceal his brother’s death in an alleged attempt to prevent Banda, then vice president, from ascending to the presidency.
World leaders, including the United States and South Africa congratulated the newly elected President Matharika and promised to continue their countries’ commitment with Malawi.
“The United States congratulates Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and Mr. Saulos Chilima on being elected the new President and Vice President, respectively, of the Republic of Malawi. The United States looks forward to continuing our close partnership with the Government of Malawi in the advance of our mutual interests of supporting Malawi’s development,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki in a statement.