Malawi’s former president withdraws from presidential race

Lilongwe Malawi’s Former President and leader of People’s Party (PP) Joyce Banda has pulled out of the May 21 presidential race and she has endorsed main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to lead the two parties.

The withdrawal of Banda was announced Thursday through a joint statement signed by the Secretaries General of the two parties, Ibrahim Matola for PP and Eisenhower Mkaka, for MCP.

“This press statement serves to announce the withdrawal of the candidature of the former president, Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, President of the Peoples Party, from the 2019 presidential race,” the two parties said in the statement.” Dr Joyce Banda is also announcing her endorsement of the candidature of Dr Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP and Peoples Party fully supports her decision.”

Briefing local journalists on the statement in the capital Thursday afternoon, officials from the two political parties said their decision has been reached for “Malawi’s greater and common good as Malawi is bigger than individuals.”

The officials from the two parties disclosed that their discussions started way back in 2015, a year after Banda lost to the incumbent Peter Mutharika in May 2014.

Banda, who ruled Malawi for two years from 2012 to 2014, said she has endorsed opposition MCP President Lazarus Chakwera since the 2014 elections in which she trailed in third position while Chakwera in second position.

Banda’s withdrawal has reduced the number of presidential candidates from 9 to 8 with no female candidate, which has been described as “unfortunate” by advocates of the feminist 50:50 campaign.

Over 6.8 million registered Malawians are expected to take part in the May 21 polls to elect president, parliamentarians, and local government leaders of their choice.

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