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Malawi's president looks to China and Russia

New leader Peter Mutharika says his country will look for "new friends" as he seeks to build battered economy.

Last updated: 02 Jun 2014 20:11
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Malawi is traditionally dependent on Western aid donors [AP]

Malawi's newly elected president has said his country will look for "new friends" in countries such as China and Russia.

Peter Mutharika said on Monday that economic stability and national unity would be the focus of his government. 

We will continue with traditional relationships, but we are now looking for new friends in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Russia

Peter Mutharika, Malawi president

"We will continue with traditional relationships, but we are now looking for new friends in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Russia," Mutharika said.

Mutharika, who takes power in one of the world's poorest countries where 40 percent of the budget comes from aid, said the donor nations were "welcome to stay".

His inauguration ceremony on Monday, at a stadium in the commercial capital Blantyre, was boycotted by outgoing president Joyce Banda.

The former leader had sought to annul the May 20 vote because of what she said were irregularities and had called for another election in which she said she would not participate.

A court said her move was invalid.

Mutharika said he regretted Banda's absence, saying she had declined to come here and hand over power to me.

"I was looking forward to shaking her hand and burying the past. I have an olive branch in my hands."

A spokesman for Banda said that she was not officially invited and her official presidential convoy was withdrawn early hours of Saturday as soon as it was announced that Peter Mutharika had won the presidency.

Mutharika, 74, is the brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April 2012.

Recent revelations of corruption, dubbed 'Cashgate' in the Malawi media, led key donors to withhold millions of dollars in budget support to the country.

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