- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2020

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) - Malawi’s newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera has been inaugurated Monday in a small ceremony, following a last-minute change from a stadium event in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Instead of a ceremony at the 40,000-seat stadium, about 100 people attended the swearing-in at Kamuzu Barracks in the capital, Lilongwe.

Chakwera said Malawi must rid itself of corruption, in a speech that was broadcast on national television.

“We must clear the rubble of impunity, for it has left our governance institutions in ruins,” he said.

He said all Malawians must work to build a new nation free from maladministration.

“I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed guilty of ruining this country are those who lost the recent election,” said Chakwera. “I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed responsible for fixing this country are those who won the recent election.”

Chakwera said he canceled the stadium celebrations that coincided with the country’s Independence Day festivities after receiving news that the number of COVID-19 was rising rapidly. The southern African country had 1,742 as of Monday, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I know that this is a frightening time for us as a nation … but I want you to know that if we each use what we have, to do our part where we are, we are going to win this fight,” said Chakwera.

Chakwera was first sworn in as Malawi’s sixth president on June 28 after the announcement that he won the southern African country’s rerun elections. Monday’s ceremony was the formal inauguration.

He won the historic election held on June 23, the first time a court-overturned vote in Africa has resulted in the defeat of an incumbent leader. Chakwera won with 58.57% of votes cast, according to official results announced by the Malawi Electoral Commission.

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