Newly elected president of Malawi – a landlocked southeastern African country – has pledged to declare his assets, reduce presidential powers and face questions in parliament as part of efforts to end years of misgovernance in his country.

Addressing a gathering at his inauguration ceremony, which coincided with country’s Independence Day, President Lazarus Chakwera, 65, also promised to empower institutions to operate independently including parliament and the anti-corruption bureau.

Chakwera defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika, 80, by securing 58.57% of votes in June 23 election.

“I promise to set a good example of submitting myself to the constitutional processes, provisions, and institutions. This means that as required by law, I will make a full declaration of my assets each year. I will go to parliament to face questions from people about my handling of state affairs,” he said.

The new president also promised to hold consultation with the leader of the main opposition party every three months and operationalize the Access to Information Law to end the era of government secrecy.

“I will urge the leadership of the judiciary to do more to root out the culture of corruption and selective justice that has shipwrecked too many of our lowest courts,” he said.

Chakwera also urged people to work hard as a time of giving freebies, rewarding noisemakers and cheerleaders are a thing of the past.

Political commentators have hailed the president’s speech and intentions.

“It is speech worth marking. I hope Chakwera will walk the talk,” said Boniface Dulani, a teacher at the University of Malawi.

The president, who is yet to name his full cabinet, canceled Independence Day celebrations and scaled-down the festivities at his inauguration on Sunday due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Over the past two weeks, COVID-19 cases have doubled in the country, reaching nearly 1,600 with 17 deaths.

The country’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and his wife, Mary, announced on Monday that they have tested negative for COVID-19 amid fears that the two might have contracted the virus after a senior member of Chilima’s party died of the virus a day ago.

“We will repeat the test in two weeks as guided by the health personnel,” Chilima tweeted.

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