Malawi scales down inauguration to invite-only guest list of 100 - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 6 July 2020

Malawi scales down inauguration to invite-only guest list of 100

Malawi's new President Lazarus Chakwera./REUTERS

Malawi's new President Lazarus Chakwera has cancelled Monday's Independence Day Celebrations and whittled down his inauguration ceremony to an invite-only guest list of 100.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had chosen Baringo Senator Gideon Moi to represent him at the inauguration.

But Chakwera said in a statement that the funds of the celebration should be channelled to Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.

In a statement on Monday, Chakwera said he had received new information in the last 24 hours that persuaded him to cancel the event altogether.

"By the time I addressed you at the start of the day , the numbers of Covid cases was 1,498. By the end of the same day, the number had increased by seven per cent," he said.

"In view of this accelerating rate of local transmission and its wide geographical spread, I have decided to cancel the celebration to prevent any persons who may be exposed to the virus from spreading it in other parts while travelling."

Chakwera asked those who had made plans to travel to reason with him during this health crisis.

"Your heath and safety is of paramount importance. In the meantime, the financial resources saved from the cancellation will be channelled towards the work of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19,"  he said.

Low-key celebration

On Saturday, Chakwera ordered his inauguration ceremony be scaled down amid a surge of coronavirus cases, dampening excitement around his election win.

Chakwera was sworn in last Sunday for a five-year term, hours after unseating Peter Mutharika in a re-run election, and this Monday the country is holding a formal celebration.

He said capacity at the national stadium would be halved to 20,000 and at least 100,000 face masks would be distributed in the capital Lilongwe.

"We're in a worse situation today than we were three months ago. Coronavirus is spreading everywhere in Malawi and it's spreading to kill," he said in a televised address.

Covid-19 cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks to reach nearly 1,500, with 16 deaths.

Opposition politicians and activists had criticised Mutharika's response to the pandemic, calling it inadequate and aimed keeping him in power.

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