Joyce Banda pulls out of Malawi’s Presidential race

She is backing endorsed opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera, who heads the Malawi Congress Party.
malawi banda
Malawi former President Joyce Banda speaks after she formaly present her candidature statement for the People’s Party (PP) to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chair 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 has pulled out of the May 21 presidential race and endorsed opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera, who heads the Malawi Congress Party.

Speaking to AFP, Banda, who heads the People’s Party, confirmed her decision, saying: “Yes, it is true”.

But she declined to comment further ahead of a joint news conference with Chakwera on Saturday.

In a joint statement, the two parties said they had begun talks in 2015, a year after Banda lost the presidency, partly as a result of a huge multimillion-dollar corruption case known as the “Cashgate” scandal.

She fled the country into self-imposed exile but returned to Malawi last year, saying the allegations against her were politically motivated. She has never faced any charges.

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

But it didn’t last long, with Banda announcing just days later that she had submitting papers to run as a presidential candidate.

Now 68, Banda first came to power in April 2012 following the sudden death of then president Bingu wa Mutharika. At the time, she was serving as vice president with his death propelling her into the top office where she served until May 2014.

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