Banda was Malawi’s president until earlier this year when she lost the presidential elections to Peter Mutharika.

She had disputed the election outcome and declared them “null and void”.

However, the country’s courts overruled her and said there was no need to have a re-run as she had wanted. She later accepted the results and even congratulated Mutharika.

Banda became Africa’s second female president when she succeeded the current president’s brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office.

There was fierce resistance to her assumption of the presidency but she managed to hold on until the country went for elections. She had been the former late president’s deputy since 2009.

She will be remembered most for her financial austerity, which saw her sell the presidential jet as one of pulling her country, which remains one of Africa’s poorest, from debt.

Prior to her appointment as the Vice President, she served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

She also served as Minister of Gender, Children’s Affairs and Community Affairs before that of Foreign Affairs.

She is described as an educator and a grassroots women’s rights activist.

Before she embarked into politics she established businesses and community organisations.

Meanwhile, in their arrival statement, the AUEOM said their mandate was to observe the Botswana October 24 general elections in conformity with the relevant African Union instruments, especially the Constitutive Act of the Union adopted in July 2000.

The mission comprises 35 trained AU observers drawn from the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), African Ambassadors to the AU, Election Management Bodies, Human Right Institutions and Civil Society organisations from various African countries. The mission is supported by a team of technical experts from the Democracy and Electoral Assistant Unit (DEAU) of the AU Commission and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

As part of its activities, the mission will meet relevant electoral stakeholders in the country including the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), political parties, presidential candidates and the civil society organisations to understand the political context in the lead up to the polls.

After the elections, the mission will release its preliminary statement at a press conference on October 26.

The mission will subsequently produce a more detailed final report with recommendations, two months after the elections.

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