Malawi: Peter Mutharika wins controversial presidential election

31st May 2014
Malawi: Peter Mutharika wins controversial presidential election




Following a dispute over last week’s vote, Peter Mutharika is to become Malawi’s next president. The outgoing president, Joyce Banda, said the elections had been fraught with “irregularities.” 

Malawi’s electoral commission declared Peter Mutharika the winner of the country’s presidential election. The 74-year-old politician is the brother of late Malawian leader Bingu wa Mutharika, who served as president from 2004 until his death in 2012.

Mutharika won 36.4 percent of the vote, according to the electoral commission, giving his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) a clear lead over opponents Lazarus Chakwera and incumbent President Joyce Banda.

Chakwera, backed by the Malawi Congress Party of former dictator Kamuzu Banda, obtained 27.8 percent of the vote. Outgoing President Banda came in third place, winning only 20.2 percent of the votes cast on May 20.

The incumbent leader had challenged the electoral commission’s decision to declare Mutharika “president-elect,” alleging that vote-rigging, a compromised digital results counting platform and the ballots tallied had exceeded the number of registered voters.  Banda also attempted to call a new vote. However, a high court judge declared the presidential decree invalid.

Following the complaint, the commission vowed to recount the ballots by hand, abandoning the computerized counting platform.

The election was seen as the first major test of President Banda, who served as vice president under the late president, Mutharika, until his death in 2012, at which point she assumed his office. Her rule was tainted by a scandal dubbed “Cashgate,” involving the disappearance of 22 million euros ($30 million) from the national treasury, which saw foreign donors freeze vital aid.

Peter Mutharika ran in the election despite facing a trial for treason. He is accused of trying to stage a constitutional coup by concealing his brother’s death to prevent Banda from being sworn in.

kms/lw (AFP, Reuters)

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