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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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Malawi opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has what appears to be an unassailable lead in the re-run of presidential election, according to a tally by the state broadcaster MBC and Times Newspaper.

Results compiled from the 5 002 polling centres and tallied by the public broadcaster MBC and Times newspaper, gave Chakwera a dominant 59% lead over incumbent President Peter Mutharika’s 38%.

The Institute of Public Opinion and Research (IPOR), a local think tank published its own unofficial tally giving Chakwera 60.3% and Mutharika 38.9% of the votes cast.

Mutharika, in power since 2014, won 38.5% of last year’s discredited vote in which Chakwera garnered 35.4%.

The country’s electoral commission did not say Thursday when it would release the full results as it appealed for patience and calm.

The cancellation of Mutharika’s victory made Malawi just the second country south of the Sahara to have presidential poll results set aside, after Kenya in 2017.

Rarely do courts in Africa annul election victories of incumbent presidents.

Former president Joyce Banda, who threw her support behind Chakwera in the nine-party electoral alliance, told AFP she was “proud to have been part of history in the making in my country”.

“Africans are demanding accountability, transparency and observance of the rule of law from their leaders, and I feel sorry for those that don’t realise that times have changed, and those ignoring the voices of ordinary people are doing so at their own peril,” she said.

She said Mutharika had “rigged” both the 2014 and 2019 elections, adding: “We have been vindicated. Democracy triumphed!”

‘New life to Malawi’

Mutharika’s party has threatened to reject the outcome of the vote.

“If Dr Chakwera had won the election fair and square I would have congratulated him, but unfortunately that is not the case,” said Atupele Muluzi, one of Mutharika’s main electoral alliance partners.

“The election results that are circulating are illegitimate and I will not accept the outcome,” he said.

Opposition politicians in neighbouring countries have already congratulated 65-year-old Chakwera.

“New life to Malawi! Congratulations to the President Elect. Kudos to state organs’ professionalism & citizens’ vigilance. Well done Malawi!,” tweeted Nelson Chamisa, Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance (MDC-A).

Mmusi Maimane, the former leader of South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance, also tweeted: “My friend, brother and leader has just won the Malawian elections…. Change is coming,” Maimane wrote.

Zambia’s main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema tweeted that Malawians “have set a great example for Africa!”

Last year’s election results sparked rare, months-long street protests in Malawi prompting the military to step in as confrontations between police and protesters turned violent.

A grouping of local election observers on Thursday commended the new electoral commission, appointed two weeks ago, for the transparent vote counting.

“This goes a long way in mitigating fears of rigging,” said the grouping which includes influential religious organisations.

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