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Is Malawi's leader too old for a second term?

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Malawi's ruling party has been divided ever since the widow of the late President Bingu Mutharika said his brother, the current President Peter Mutharika, is too old to run for a second term, arguing he should make way for his 45-year-old deputy, Saulos Chilima.

But in move that has shocked many in Malawi, Mr Chilima has announced he will not be challenging his 79-year-old boss for the party presidency at its elective convention later this month.

Addressing the media in the capital Lilongwe, Mr Chilima said he does not want to be seen as fighting the founders of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Today’s unexpected decision by Mr Chilima, who has reasonable support within the DPP, has eased tension in the party.

However, his supporters, who saw him as the future leader of Malawi, will feel betrayed.

There are suggestions that he could be planning to form a political party ahead of elections in May 2019.

If Mr Mutharika is re-elected, he will be 80 when he begins a new five-year term - which some people feel makes him too old for the job.

But President Mutharika has laughed off these concerns and, on more than one occasion, declared he will lead the ruling party in 2019.

The main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party, will be fielding Lazarus Chakwera as its candidate.

Speculation is also rife that former President Joyce Banda, who returned home in April, will also make a run for the top job.

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