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[Review] How Malawi's Mutharika secured a second term

[Review] How Malawi's Mutharika secured a second term


Malawi’s 2019 general elections ended with the contested victory of president Peter Mutharika, who now has a mandate to serve his second and final term.

The tripartite elections that saw Malawians vote for president, members of parliament and local councillors also produced one of the youngest legislators on the continent, 23-year-old Fyness Magonjwa.

The presidential election was contested by Mutharika and his deputy, Saulos Chilima who quit the ruling party last year, citing rampant corruption. The main opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera was also participating in what was projected to be a tight race.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Malawi’s tripartite 2019 electionCampaigns and issues

The three-month long campaign was dominated by economic issues, the fight against corruption and protecting albinos among others.

While Mutharika claimed to have fixed the economy, arguing for stability, the opposition insisted he was presiding over a corrupt government and had not done enough to create employment opportunities, especially for the youth.

Voting day

On May 21, 74% of the 6,859,570 registered voters cast their votes in what was largely an incident-free polling day. The vice-president Chilima however had to wait at least 40 minutes before he could vote, because his name had been transferred from his official polling station.

Trouble during tallying process

While campaign and voting were largely peaceful, Malawi’s Electoral Commission (MEC) ran into some trouble during the tallying process.

Opposition parties accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of colluding with MEC to rig the election. Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) successfully filed an injunction stopping the declaration of results, citing irregularities including including results sheets with sections blotted out or altered with correction fluid.

Mutharika wins, opposition protests

Two days later, court lifted the injunction, allowing MEC to declare the results which showed that Mutharika had won the presidential election with 38.57% of votes cast, while Chakwera scored 35.41% and Chilima came third with 20.24%.

Mutharika has since been sworn-in and called for national unity, while the opposition’s Chakwera has vowed to continue petitioning the courts to annul the results.

The 78-year-old president now has the task to deliver on his campaign pledges of clean governance and economic revival.

READ MORE: Tracking Malawi’s election from voting to inauguration

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