BLANTYRE, MALAWI – In Malawi, the leader of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Lazarus Chakwera, won the country’s historic presidential election rerun, which came after the nullification of last year’s polls that gave President Peter Mutharika his second term.
Chifundo Kachale, chairperson for Malawi Electoral Commission announced the winner Saturday night in Blantyre, amid applause from MCP supporters.
“The commission declares that, Lazarus Chakwera, the candidate who has attained 58.57 percent of the votes, has attained the requisite majority of the electorate as appearing in the second schedule and is duly elected as president of the republic of Malawi,” Kachale said.
According to the results, 4.4 million Malawians voted, out of the 6.8 registered voters.
The fresh polls came after the country’s Constitutional Court in February annulled the May 2019 elections over massive irregularities, a decision that the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld in May.
In the polls, Chakwera, ran against Mutharika, leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, (DPP) and little-known Peter Kuwani of the opposition Mbakuwaku Movement for Development party.
Chakwera won with 2.6 million votes. Mutharika came second with 1.7 million votes while Kuwani won 32,400 votes.
At a news conference earlier in the day in Blantyre, Mutharika said the June 23 poll is worst election in the country’s history.
Mutharika, joined by his running mate, Atupele Muluzi, leader of the opposition United Democratic Front, told reporters the polls were marred by irregularities.
“In short, our monitors were beaten, hacked and intimidated so that they should not participate in voting process,” Mutharika said. “Many tally sheets do not have signatures, as monitors were also in hospital and could not present to endorse the results.”
Mutharika also said the election is not a true reflection of the will of many people.
“Much as I find this election unacceptable, but for the sake of peace, I still love our country, which is larger than all of us,” he said. “I therefore ask all Malawians to be peaceful with results if announced.”
However, various election observers, including the Malawi Human Rights Commission, have described the elections as free, fair and credible.
Speaking via televised live broadcast Saturday, Chakwera could not hide his happiness.
“I am so happy, I could dance all night,” he said. “By my heart is bubbling with joy and at the same time with great gratitude to the Lord.”
Political analyst Sheriff Kaisi told VOA via telephone that Chakwera’s victory showed people were tired of Mutharika’s administration.
“You know there is an issue of corruption, which is so rampart in Malawi,” Kaisi said. “You know this issue of nepotism, issue of tribalism.” People got tired of such issues, Kaisi said.
Chakwera and his running mate, Saulos Chilima, leader of opposition United Transformation Movement, are expected to be sworn in Sunday at Bingu International Convention Centre in the capital Lilongwe.