Malawi president promises to transform country ahead of elections

When you give me a chance for another five years, I will develop this country beyond recognition.
Malawis President Peter Mutharika arrives for his final elections campaign rally at Mjamba Park in the commercial city of Blantyre, on May 18, 2019, ahead of the Tuesday May 21, 2019 Tripartite Elections. – Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, will face tough opposition, including from his own deputy Saulos Chilima, at the May 21 election. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Malawian President Peter Mutharika made a final plea to voters on Saturday, promising to develop the country “beyond recognition” if he wins next week’s election.

Mutharika, who came to power in 2014, faces a tough battle to hold onto office in Tuesday’s election after his presidency was damaged by corruption allegations.

“We have set Malawi on the path of progress. The opposition have nothing to criticise me on,” he told several thousand cheering supporters in Blantyre at his final campaign rally.

“My priorities for this country are development and building skills. When you give me a chance for another five years, I will develop this country beyond recognition.

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“I can assure you that we will get to the level of Singapore and Malaysia.”

Mutharika, who said he was taking only 40 percent of his salary to help the economy, pledged to construct more schools and factories in Malawi — a largely agricultural country that is one of the poorest in the world.

“We will continue to build the economy so that we eradicate poverty,” he said.

Mutharika also pledged to provide secure accommodation for albino people, who have been killed or mutilated for their body parts in the belief that they contain magical powers.

In a surge of attacks, 163 cases have been reported since November 2014, including 22 murders, Amnesty International said this month.

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Mutharika, 78, who has denied rumours of ill health, was greeted by supporters chanting “We all knew our father was alive!”

“He should win again so that we continue living in peace and he should continue with his mission,” said businesswoman Flora Malewa, 25.

The main rivals to Mutharika and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera of the long-established Malawi Congress Party (MCP), and Saulos Chilima of the new United Transformation Movement (UTM).

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