Immediate past president Peter Mutharika did not attend President Lazarus Chakwera's inauguration ceremony to hand over the sword because he was feeling poorly, a source in the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said.
Mutharika, 80, who is at his retirement home in Mangochi along the southern shoreline of Lake Malawi, did not travel to Kamuzu Barracks parade ground in Lilongwe on Monday where his successor Chakwera received the sword of command to become Commander-in-Chief of Malawi Defence Force, Malawi's sixth President.
"The former president was feeling unwell hence could not attend the inauguration," said a DPP official.
Mutharika has not yet appointed a spokesperson as all staff working for him have left since the shift of power.
His failure to handover the sword of powers was not a surprise as Malawians only witnessed once in 2004 an outgoing president handing over power when Bakili Muluzi handed over to Bingu wa Mutharika at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. The gesture was, however, expected as Muluzi and Bingu belonged to the same United Democratic Front (UDF) party then.
Meanwhile, former president Joyce Banda said she had agreed with Muluzi to stay away from the event because of the threat of Covid-19 as both are of advanced age.
"The only reason I didn't go was because the President told me that the cancellation was due to Covid-19 and I discussed with former president Muluzi that we should stay away because of our age. Both of us are over 70," said Banda in quotes reported by The Nation daily newspaper.
But Banda described Chakwera's inauguration speech as the best she has ever heard, and urged the country to rally behind the vision.
The paper also quoted Muluzi for praising the speech of the new President.
Muluzi, the father of Mutharika's running mate Atupele, who also refused to accept defeat gracefully, said he was impressed by Chakwera's call for Malawians to work hard.
He said: "We need to support the President to achieve his desired goals."
Malawians unanimously agreed on most social media platforms that Chakwera, ushered into power through court-ordered fresh presidential elections on June 23, delivered what can be described as an inspiring and unifying speech.
Commentators say President Chakwera is sending the right signals towards unity and encouraging team work in rebuilding the nation where everyone benefits and accounts to someone.