Malawi opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera wins historic poll rerun


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Getty Images

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Lazarus Chakwera’s political fortunes were revived by a court ruling that annulled last year’s flawed election

Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has won the country’s rerun presidential vote, officials say.

He defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika with almost 59% of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, the electoral commission announced late on Saturday.

In February, Malawi’s constitutional court annulled Mr Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing vote tampering.

The country was bitterly divided in the run-up to this week’s election.

It is the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities, after Kenya in 2017.

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Supporters of Mr Chakwera have been celebrating in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, sounding car horns and letting off fireworks.

Why was there a new vote?

A rerun of the 2019 election was ordered after the Constitutional Court found the original ballot had been marred by widespread irregularities.

That election saw President Mutharika narrowly re-elected by fewer than 159,000 votes.

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Reuters

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Outgoing President Peter Mutharika described Tuesday’s vote as the worst election Malawi has ever had

Mr Chakwera, who came second in that election, argued that tallying forms had been added up incorrectly and tampered with using Tipp-Ex correction fluid.

A woman voting in Malawi, 21 May 2019

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Malawi’s 13-month election

  • First electionon 21 May 2019

  • Mutharikasworn in on 27 May 2019

  • Thousands proteston 20 June 2019, complaining of fraud

  • Constitutional courtoverturns result on 3 February 2020 and orders re-run

  • Court rejectsMutharika’s appeal on 8 May 2020

Source: BBC

Uncertainty around the result sparked months of tension, which spilled over into clashes between opposition supporters and police.

February’s annulment led some to celebrate, but Mr Mutharika described it as a “serious subversion of justice” which marked the death of the country’s democracy.

There were concerns over the logistics and safety of carrying out an election in the midst of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

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AFP

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This week’s rerun was largely peaceful, despite deep tensions

Who is Lazarus Chakwera ?

The opposition leader, a former cleric, heads up the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Born in Lilongwe to a subsistence farmer, the philosophy and theology graduate has pledged to raise the national minimum wage, among other reforms.

Lazarus Chakwera

AFP

Lazarus Chakwera

Candidate for the Tonse Alliance

  • Born 5 April 1955

  • Studied theology in Malawi, South Africa and USA

  • Pastor and lecturer worked at the Assemblies of God School of Theology

  • Authored several books on religion including Reach the Nations

  • Ran for president in 2014 and came second

Source: BBC Monitoring

Mr Chakwera leads a nine-party coalition, the Tonse Alliance, and had the backing of former President Joyce Banda as well as the country’s vice-president, Saulos Chilima, as his running mate.

Mr Chilima – who finished third in the 2019 vote – was once an ally of President Mutharika, but has since fallen out with him.



BBC