Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has won the country’s new presidential election, officials said.
He defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of the vote in Tuesday’s election, the election commission said late Saturday.
In February, the Malawi Constitutional Court annulled Mr. Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing manipulation of the election.
The country was bitterly divided ahead of the week’s elections.
After Kenya in 2017, it is the second African nation to void an irregular presidential election.
- How brave judges rejected a “second-rate choice”
- A quick guide to Malawi
After the official result on Saturday, Mr. Chakwera said his victory was “a victory for democracy and justice” and added: “My heart is bubbling with joy.”
His followers took to the streets of the Malawian capital Lilongwe, heard car horns and let go of fireworks.
Mr. Chakwera is expected to be sworn in on Sunday.
Malawi’s new leader will try to heal the nation
By Will Ross, BBC News
This is an extremely important moment in Malawi’s political history and evidence that neither the courts nor the electorate were ready to be bullied or influenced by the power of the President.
Elections have been annulled in other African countries – this happened in Kenya a few years ago – but it is unprecedented that the opposition candidate then wins a repeat.
Peter Mutharika’s narrow victory in last year’s poll was canceled by the Constitutional Court after evidence showed that corrective fluid had been used to change the number of votes. Then he turned to the Supreme Court for help. The judges there were under great pressure but were firm. And now the majority of Malawi voters have rejected it.
Mr. Mutharika is crying badly now and can be a legal challenge, but the Malawi people have chosen Lazarus Chakwera as their next president. The Pentecostal preacher and former lecturer in theology must first heal a nation that has gone through many months of political unrest.
Before Saturday’s results, Mr. Mutharika said that while he considered the election “unacceptable”, it was his “sincere hope that we should move this country forward instead of backwards”.
Why was there a new vote?
A repeat of the 2019 elections was ordered after the Constitutional Court found that the original ballot paper had been affected by widespread irregularities.
In this election, President Mutharika was narrowly reelected with less than 159,000 votes.
Mr. Chakwera, who came second in this election, argued that the accounting forms had been incorrectly added and manipulated.
First choiceon May 21, 2019
Mutharikasworn in on May 27, 2019
Thousands proteston June 20, 2019 complaint about fraud
Constitutional CourtOn February 3, 2020 there are overturns and the orders are executed again
Court refusesMutharika’s appointment on May 8, 2020
Uncertainty about the outcome triggered months of tension that led to clashes between opposition supporters and the police.
The February repeal made some people celebrate, but Mr. Mutharika described it as a “serious subversion of justice” that marked the death of the country’s democracy.
There were concerns about logistics and security in making a choice amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.
who is Lazarus Chakwera ?
The opposition leader, a former priest, leads the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
The graduate of philosophy and theology, born in Lilongwe as the son of a subsistence farmer, has committed himself to raising the national minimum wage, among other things.
Candidate for the Tonse Alliance
Born April 5, 1955
Studied theology in Malawi, South Africa and USA
Pastor and lecturer worked at the Assemblies of God School of Theology
Posted several books on religion, including Reach the Nations
Ran for the president in 2014 and finished second
Source: BBC surveillance
Mr. Chakwera leads a nine-party coalition, the Tonse Alliance, and was supported by former President Joyce Banda and Vice President of the Country Saulos Chilima as his deputy.
Mr. Chilima, who finished third in the 2019 vote, was once an ally of President Mutharika, but has argued with him since then.