Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika won re-election on Friday in a ballot widely viewed as a test for political stability in the southern African country, but the opposition said he rigged the vote.
The Electoral Commission declared Wa Mutharika the winner of the presidential poll with 2,7-million votes. His closest rival John Tembo won 1,2-million votes.
Wa Mutharika also won a parliamentary majority, which is likely to ease a standoff with the opposition that has almost paralysed government and unnerved donors and investors in what the Economist Intelligence Unit says is the world’s second-fastest growing economy.
”We decided to go ahead and announce the winner because the votes we have verified and counted represent 93,25% of the total polling stations,” said Electoral Commission head Anastasia Msosa.
Wa Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party won 91 of the 193 parliamentary seats, while Tembo’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) took 25 and the United Democratic Front (UDF), which joined the MCP in an opposition alliance, won 17. Independent candidates took 26.
Tembo cried foul after early results showed Wa Mutharika taking a commanding lead and said he would go to court to contest the results.
”I have received complaints from all over the country and believe that we have evidence to show that the election was rigged,” Tembo told a news conference.
Wa Mutharika, due to be sworn in for a second term on Friday, based his campaign on a record of making Malawi a net food exporter and delivering three years of growth above 7% in the country of 13-million, where annual gross domestic product is only $313 per capita.
A Commonwealth election monitoring mission said Wa Mutharika had exploited state media to gain an unfair advantage in the election but that the opposition should drop its protest.
Former president and UDF leader Bakili Muluzi, who was excluded from standing himself but had formed an alliance with Tembo, earlier acknowledged Wa Mutharika had won and said he would support the new government.
Muluzi has been an arch rival of Wa Mutharika and a protracted power struggle between the two almost paralysed Parliament, prompting a failed impeachment bid and allegations of a coup plot that unnerved Western donors. — Reuters