Malawi’s new President Lazarus Chakwera is a former evangelical preacher who says he ventured into politics in answer to God’s call. “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 said in a recent video clip released during the electoral campaign. Chakwera, 65, has for the past seven years led Malawi’s oldest party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which ruled the country for three decades from 1964 to 1994 under dictator Hastings Banda’s one-party rule. Chakwera led the party into the 2014 elections, coming second to Peter Mutharika at the polls. He contested again last year, and was defeated but the vote was subsequently annulled. The MCP had lost all five presidential elections since 1994 but Chakwera made great efforts to rebrand the party, breaking away from Banda’s iron-fisted rule and re-energising its base. After he lost to Mutharika by a narrow margin in last year’s vote, he launched what was to become a historic legal challenge. That election was overturned by Malawi’s top court which found widespread irregularities, including the use of correction fluid to tamper with result sheets. – ‘The people want change’ – A re-run election was ordered and Chakwera swept to victory, winning over 58 percent of the vote according to the election ocmmission. “The people want change. They’re demanding change and they see us as the face of change,” he told AFP. For the re-run, Chakwera obtained the high-profile support of Vice President Saulos Chilima, former president Joyce Banda and several other small political parties. Chakwera was born in Lilongwe to a subsistence farmer whose two elder sons died in infancy. He was named Lazarus after the biblical character who was raised from the dead.