Malawi: President Laz Cancels Malawi Independence Celebrations Amidst COVID-19 Threat

Newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera (file photo).

Newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera was set to be inaugurated this Monday at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe during a ceremony which would have also marked 56th Malawi Independence Celebration have been cancelled amidst threat of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic due to rapid increase of virus cases the country has so far registered.

Chakwera, was already sworn in as Malawi's sixth President at the Malawi Square in Lilongwe alongside Vice-President Saulos Chilima last week.

But the President who also expected to deliver his inauguration speech, will address the nation on Sunday.

Chakwera's predecessors have used the inauguration speech to provide policy direction, especially on the economy, in the coming five years in a country that is clocking 56 years of independence on July 6, but has remained one of the poorest in the world, relying on donors for 40 percent of its recurrent budget and 80 percent of the development budget.

President Chakwera inherits a country deeply divided, politically, regionally and ethnically. With an economy not much better than it was at independence in 1964, with poverty deeply entrenched, with a government steeped in corruption. And with a Covid-19 pandemic spreading.

On Saturday, Chakwera assured the nation of a transparent and consultative process in formulating and implementing strategies to fight against the Coronavirus.

There has been over 1, 400 recorded Covid-19 cases in the country with the majority being local transmissions.

Chakwera defeated immediate former president Peter Mutharika by around 59% to 40% in the 23 June election which was a rerun ordered by the courts of the elections held in May 2019. Mutharika won that election but then Malawi's Constitutional Court annulled it in February 2020 because of extensive vote rigging.

It was only the second known time in Africa's history that a court had annulled an election and certainly one which the incumbent leader had won. The first was in Kenya in 2017.

On being sworn in last Sunday, Chakwera promised "a government that serves, not a government that rules; a government that inspires, not a government that infuriates; a government that listens, not a government that shouts; a government that fights for you, not against you".

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