Renegade Malawian vice-president guns for top job

Hot seat: Ahead of elections next year, President Peter Mutharika (right) faces allegations of corruption and fraud. (Amos Gumulira/AFP)

Hot seat: Ahead of elections next year, President Peter Mutharika (right) faces allegations of corruption and fraud. (Amos Gumulira/AFP)

Malawi’s Vice-President Saulosi Klaus Chilima this week threw his hat into the ring for the 2019 presidential elections, going up against the incumbent, Peter Mutharika, who is embroiled in a corruption scandal.

The vice-president quit the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last month, citing unchecked corruption and nepotism.

“I am ready to contest,” he said on Wednesday. “If we follow a process that is transparent and democratic, I will present myself as a candidate.

“In the next 10 days, a decision will be made on whether I will go it alone as an independent candidate or as part of an alliance or grand coalition,” Chilima said in an interview with the Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Lilongwe.

He said his decision followed calls by various people and organisations for him to stand in the election scheduled for May next year.

His announcement came a day after Mutharika accepted the nomination of his DPP, despite being at the epicentre of a leaked report by the country’s anti-graft body accusing him of fraud.

READ MORE: Malawi anti-graft body says Banda still under probe

He and the ruling party are alleged to have received about $195 000 from a contractor supplying food to the police.

Civil action groups have called for Mutharika to resign.

Successive heads of state have been embroiled in graft and corruption allegations in the aid-dependent country. Mutharika was elected in 2014 after his predecessor, Joyce Banda, was embroiled in the so-called “Cashgate” scandal, in which government officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money.

Banda returned to Malawi in April after four years of self-imposed exile and announced that she was ready to run in the elections against Mutharika.

In April, thousands of Malawians took part in the country’s first nationwide anti-government demonstrations since 2011.
The marches, organised by civil action groups, were in protest against alleged corruption and poor governance under Mutharika. — AFP

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