President Peter Mutharika yesterday took an oath for his second five-year term of office with an appeal to Malawians and his political opponents to move on after a gruelling May 21 Tripartite Elections campaign trail.
However, the President fell short of plainly extending an olive branch in his acceptance speech after taking the oath of office at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Mutharika was sworn in alongside his running mate now Vice-President (VP) Everton Chimulirenji who has replaced Mutharika’s first term VP Saulos Chilima who rebelled midway and challenged the President in the race. Chilima finished third.
Thousands of Democratic Progress Party (DPP) followers clad in the party’s blue colours filled the stadium to witness the ceremony presided over by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
In his acceptance speech, the President described his victory declared by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Monday evening as the victory of the people, the rule of law and the rule of democracy.
He said: “I also want to thank leaders of various political parties who competed with me in this election. Let us accept that there can only be one winner at a time.
“So, it is now the time to move on. The elections are over. There is time to fight, there is time to unite, there is time to argue and time to agree. There is time to pursue our partisan goals and time to pursue our national goals.”
Mutharika also commended MEC for managing the election which he described as historic, saying the international observers have agreed that it was peaceful, free, fair and credible.
He said the election was a collective achievement for the country.
“For the first time in the history of our country, this election was entirely funded from our own sources. Let us be proud of ourselves as Malawians. This is time to unite and develop this country and now is the time. Malawi is the only country we have,” said the President.
Section 81 of the Constitution states that before a person elected to be President or First Vice-President or appointed to be First Vice-President or Second Vice-President takes office that person shall take the following oath administered in public by the Chief Justice.
Mutharika took the oath at 14:37, saying: “I, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, do solemnly swear that I will well and truly perform the functions of the high office of President of the Republic of Malawi, and that I will preserve and defend the Constitution, and that I will do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. So help me God.”
First to take his oath of office was Chimulirenji as the country’s sixth VP after Justin Malewezi (two terms 1994-2004), Cassim Chilumpha (2004-2009), Joyce Banda (2009-2012), Khumbo Kachali (2012-2014) and Chilima (2014-2019).
Former president Bakili Muluzi, several judges of the High Court and Supreme Court, the clergy, traditional leaders and MEC commissioners also witnessed the occasion that lasted about 90 minutes.
During the function, the arrival of MEC chairperson Jane Ansah and her entourage attracted ululation from DPP supporters.
Mutharika is expected to be inaugurated this Friday at the same venue before holding a victory rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre on Sunday.