Blantyre - Malawi's ex-president Bakili Muluzi, who ruled from 1994 to 2004, announced on Wednesday his retirement from active politics, stepping down as chairman of his former governing party.
"I have seen it fit to retire from active politics and from the position of party chairman of the United Democratic Front," he told a news conference at his upmarket residence in Limbe, outside the commercial capital Blantyre.
Muluzi is dogged by ill health and charges of syphoning $12-million in aid money.
"I want to spend my time with my family," he said.
He said his former finance minister Friday Jumbe had taken over from him, and will be called party president and tasked to "re-organise the party for the 2014 elections."
Muluzi, who defeated late dictator Kamuzu Banda in the country's first democratic elections in 1994, said the governing council of the party would formally endorse Jumbe as party president.
He said he regretted not having not done more to improve the lives of his citizens when he was head of state.
"We could have done better to reduce poverty," he added.
Half of the 13 million citizens live below the poverty line and on less than a dollar a day. - Sapa-AFP