Joyce Banda throws support behind opposition party in Malawi

Malawi former President Joyce Banda (L) formaly presents her candidature statement for the Peoples Party (PP) to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chair Jane Ansah at the Comesa hall in Blantyre on February 5, 2019. - Banda formally submitted papers to run as a candidate in upcoming elections, after reversing a decision to join an alliance with Vice President Saulos Chilima. Last week Chilima and Banda announced they had formed a four-party coalition in a bid to unseat President Peter Mutharika in the May 21 vote, but the group soon broke up. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda on Monday signed an electoral pact with the country’s largest opposition party days after she pulled out of elections due in May.

Banda, 68, is throwing her support behind the Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera.

“We seek that which shall uplift Malawi from the economic doldrums and quagmire,” Banda, flanked by Chakwera, told a news conference

This is Banda’s second political alliance in just two months.

Six weeks ago, Banda and Vice President Saulos Chilima said they had formed a four-party alliance to take on President Peter Mutharika.

But that was short-lived with Banda announcing just days later that she would run for president under her own People’s Party.

Analysts questioned the credibility of the People’s Party as a partner.

“Are they reliable that they will stick (with) the relationship,” asked University of Malawi political scientist Henry Chingaipe.

Banda garnered just over one million votes in the last election in 2014, which could be enough to tip the scales in Chakwera’s favour if all her supporters move with her.

Chakwera scored just under 1.5 million votes in 2014 when Mutharika won with 1.9 million.

Then vice-president Banda came to power in April 2012 following the sudden death of president Bingu wa Mutharika. She served until May 2014.

She then fled the country into self-imposed exile on the back of a multimillion-dollar corruption case known as the “Cashgate” scandal.

She returned to Malawi last year saying the graft allegations against her were politically motivated. She has never faced any charges


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