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Pastor and Arsenal fan: Five things to know about Malawi’s new president

Lazarus Chakwera is the new President of Malawi after he defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika in a hotly disputed election.

The erstwhile opposition leader was sworn in Sunday after winning the re-run of the elections that were first held in May 2019.

Chakwera, a former evangelist preacher, was declared the winner of the election held on Tuesday with almost 59 percent of the vote, according to results announced late Saturday.

So who exactly is President Chakwera?

1. Early life – He was born in Lilongwe in 1955 and named after the Biblical Lazarus after two of his elder brothers died during infancy. His father named him Lazarus as a way of ‘raising him from the dead’.

2. Family life – He is a happy family man who has been married to his better half Monica for the past three decades. The couple is blessed with four children and several grandchildren.

3. Evangelist preacher – He is a renowned pastor who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) degree from the University of Malawi and an honours degree from the University of North in South Africa. He worked as an instructor at the Assemblies of God School of Theology and became professor at the Pan African Theological Seminary in 2005.

“One day God spoke to my heart, and God was not saying I’m pulling you out of ministry, God was saying I’m extending your ministry so that you are able to pastor a whole nation,” he once said.

4. Gunner by choice – He is ardent fan of English Premier League side Arsenal. He has on occasions uploaded photos of himself in Arsenal’s jersey and he is known to comment about ‘his’ team and European football on his social media pages.

5. Rise to the top – He has had to work extra hard to clinch the presidency after polling 59% of the vote. In February, Malawi’s constitutional court annulled Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing vote tampering. The decision left the country bitterly divided but Chakwea lived to fight another day.