President Peter Mutharika has asked his contenders in the watershed May 21 Tripartite Elections to be "peace-loving" and desist from "vengeful politics", describing himself as a "peaceful" person.
Mutharika and the Pentecostal clergy during Presidential Prayer Breakfast at Kamuzu Palace other other six candidates shunned the event
Mutharika claimed five assassination attempts made on his life in 2014 which he survived
Some of the top DPP officials at the prayer breakfast
Mutharika said in his inaugural remarks during the Presidential Prayer Breakfast held at the Kamuzu Palace in the capital, Lilongwe that he was committed to ensuring there was peace in the country.
"As a democrat, I don't need to be persuaded for peace. I am peace-loving," said Mutharika as he was the sole presidential candidate at the event as six other candidates had shunned the event as they already attended National Prayers and Signing of Peace Declaration by Presidential Candidates at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe organised by Public Affairs Committee (PAC) last Saturday which Mutharika did not attend as he travelled to the Northern Region for a series of campaign rallies
"In 2014 I survived five assassination of attempts, and my predecessor [Joyce Banda ] tried to cling over to power but I ensured peace," said Mutharika.
He was apparently referring to remarks he has said before that tore apart his arrest on treason charges under the Joyce Banda administration as a "concoction and total rubbish" and further claimed an assassination attempt was made on his life while in police custody.
Mutharika was arrested alongside several Cabinet ministers - infamously known as Midnight 6 - for allegedly plotting to stop then estranged vice-president Joyce Banda from ascending to power. The case could not proceed when he won the elections due to his immunity.
He alleged that while in police custody at Lumbadzi Police Station, the party's youth supporters foiled an assassination attempt after a doctor sent by the State House was apprehended by party supporters.
One of the organisers of the prayers, Apostle Madalitso Mbewe, founder of Calvary Family Church (CFC) said the prayers -held under the theme 'Pursuing Peace and Development,' were a tradition in the country.
"Since 1999, we have had these prayers as a tradition ahead of general elections. They are critical and important for the continued proliferation of peace in our country," said Mbewe.
Mbewe ruled out talk by other presidential hopefuls who said they could not attend the prayers because Kamuzu Palace was not a neutral ground.
"I don't know where we can find any other neutral place place than the State House. It is the safest place," said Mbewe, known to be bankrolled by the governing DPP.
Mbewe also expressed disappointment with failure of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential aspirant, Lazarus Chakwera, saying it was unfortunate he had snubbed the prayers when he was one of the lead organisers before he entered frontline politics.
"He had always said these were important prayers," said Mbewe.
In his homily, guest speaker Reverend Good Mshana, said "democracy must be augmented by sustainable peace and development."
Commenting on scripture-derived from Romans 12:17-21-Mshana said peace was key to the success of any nation, and called for unity in diversity.
"God created difference and diversity but not conflict," said Mshana.
The prayers were attended by 300 people from, among others, government departments and agencies, the religious and business community.
The six presidential candidates who did not turn up are the country's Vice-President Saulos Chilima who is challenging his boss on the ticket of the newest political outfit UTM Party, Minister of Health and United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Atupele Muluzi, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) torchbearer Lazarus Chakwera, Umodzi Party (UP) president John Chisi, Mbakuwaku Movement for Democracy (MMD) leader Peter Kuwani and Revelend Hardwick Kaliya (Independent).
The prayers were organised by several Christian churches, including Pentecostal Revival Crusade Ministries, Calvary Family Church, Charismatic Redeemed Ministries International, Malawi Assemblies of God and Living Waters Church.