By Green Muheya
President Peter Mutharika has retaliated that he will contest in the 2019 presidential elections, snubbing his critics who say he is old to continue ruling the country.
Mutharika, who is currently receiving endorsement from party members including some lawmakers, said on Wednesday that he will seek a new mandate in the country’s watershed polls set for year.
Mutharika, a retired US law professor, described those calling for him to leave the stage to young people as Judas Iscariots who do not wish him and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) well.
“I will stand come 2019, contest and win with a landslide,” he said.
Mutharika, 79, is facing an unprecedented resistance, for an incumbent eligible for a second term as per the Malawi Constitution, from a section of his governing DPP lobbying for the candidacy of Vice-President Saulos Chilima, 45.
Former first lady Callista Mutharika–widow of DPP founding president and the incumbent President’s elder brother, Bingu wa Mutharika–sparked the succession debate weeks ago when she said her in-law should pave the way for the comparatively youthful and energetic Chilima widely seen as a hands-on and results-oriented leader after he vibrantly led the Public Sector Reforms Programme that has lost steam since it was moved from his domain.
Some senior DPP members, such as director of youth Louis Ngalande and legislators Bon Kalindo, Patricia Kaliati, Allan Ngumuya and Noel Masangwi have also come out in support of Callista’s sentiments.
But the party heavy weights have publicly endorsed Mutharika to contest for the post of presidential candidate during the DPP’s next convention.
Mutharika has warned that fielding a different candidate would oust the DPP from power.
Protesters last month staged unprecedented demonstrations against the president peacefully on governance and socio-economic concerns.
Civil society groups have given the president 90 days deadline from April 27 to listen to their demands, promising a fresh wave of protests if he does not address the chronic poverty that has ensnared most of the country’s citizenry.