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Theologian, former pastor Lazarus Chakwera wins Malawi presidential race

by Premier Journalist

Opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has won Malawi's latest presidential race, defeating incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of the vote. Chakwera is a theologian, pastor and former President of the Malawi Assemblies of God.

Following his victory, the new president said the election — which was a rerun following last year's poll being scrapped due to voting irregularities — was "a win for democracy and justice". He is the first opposition leader in Northern sub-saharan Africa to win a voting rerun after a result has been overturned due to fraud or irregularity. 

He said his heart was "bubbling with joy" at the result.

In his speech after being sworn in, Chakwera said: "Time has come for us to go beyond dreaming, time has come for us to wake up, to arise from slumber, and to make our dreams come true.

"With your help we will restore faith in having a government that serves; not a government that rules, a government that inspires, not a government that infuriates, a government that listens, not a government that shouts but a government that fights for you and not against you." 

Mr Chakwera worked as an instructor at the Assemblies of God School of Theology from 1983 to 2000 before becoming the Principal in 1996. He was given the name Lazarus following the death of his two older brothers when they were infants -- convinced that his son was going to live, Chakwera's father named him after the Biblical character who was famously raised from the dead by Jesus Christ.

Speaking to the BBC after being sworn in on Sunday, Chakwera promised to unite the troubled African nation and root out government corruption.

He said: "There's no cause for fear because I will be your president and my policy for inclusivity means we are building a new Malawi for all of us. I'm not a president of a faction, I'm a president of everyone in the country. I want to provide leadership that makes everybody prosper, that deals decisively with corruption and theft of public funds and a leadership that will follow the rule of law." 

The new president added: "I do feel like Lazarus, I've come back from the dead, it's been a long journey and we feel vindicated in a way." 

Following his victory, on Twitter, he simply wrote: "Thank you, my Lord Jesus." 




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