Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera was declared the winner of the presidential election against outgoing head of state Peter Mutharika, who challenged the results before they were even published.
The Election Commission (MEC) announced on Saturday, June 27 that the Malawian opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera won the presidential election contested on Tuesday against the departing Peter Mutharika, whose re-election in 2019 had been suspended for fraud. The latter condemned irregularities even before the results.
After four long days of counting, the President of MECChifundo Kachale reaffirmed the great victory of Lazarus Chakwera, a former evangelical pastor of 65 years. “The Commission declares that Lazarus Chakwera, who received the 58.57% (GOOD 58, 57) election, has reached the required majority and is elected president of Malawi,” said President Chifundo Kachale, who was widely praised by supporters of the winner.
“I’m so happy, I could dance all night,” Lazarus Chakwera responded immediately to the press. “My heart is bubbling with joy and gratitude for the Lord”. “It is a victory for the Malawians, a victory for democracy, a victory for justice,” continued the elected president, who acted by condemning the “economic failure and corruption of the regime.” This is a victory that will put the nation back on track to build a new Malawi where everyone will be involved, “he promised.
A disputed vote
Outgoing President Peter Mutharika, 79, cuts the dust sharply, more than 800,000 votes behind the winner.
A few hours earlier, without waiting for confirmation of his defeat, the outgoing president threw trouble by condemning the irregularities in the vote. “We were hoping for an election without irregularities (…) all Malaysians saw this election as the worst in history,” he said in a brief statement to the press. “We believe that most of the results sent to the MEC (Election Commission) do not reflect the will of the people,” he added.
The outgoing head of state said his party’s narrators had been “beaten, beaten, kidnapped and intimidated so that they could not take part in the control of the vote”. “Many signature sheets do not have their signatures,” he said.
Its Progressive Democratic Party (DPP) had demanded immediate cancellation of the results, suggesting a new battle in court. In the contested election in May 2019, MEC’s victory, Peter Mutharika, declared in power since 2014, with 38.57% of the vote, against 35.41% in Lazarus Chakwera.
But the Opposition Leader challenged the results and his supporters took to the streets for months to get the vote. Their demonstrations had been the scene of frequent violence with the police. In February, the Constitutional Court finally ruled in opposition, annulled the results because of “generalized and systematic irregularities” and ordered a new vote.
Malawi has thus become the second country in sub-Saharan Africa that has canceled a presidential election after Kenya 2017.
In the wake of Tuesday’s investigation, local NGOs, which had sent observers across the country, made a preliminary assessment that concluded “the election process has gone well so far”. The statement by the outgoing president, even before the results were published, has drawn harsh criticism in Malawi, especially in civil society.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries on the planet. According to the World Bank, more than half of its 17 million inhabitants live below the poverty line.