Opposition in Malawi up their votes to 61pc

Saturday June 27 2020

 

By Louis Kolumbia & Agencies

Dar es Salaam. The opposition candidate in Malawi’s election rerun yesterday had garnered 61 percent of the votes, according to media reports, raising hopes for Tonse Alliance presidential contender Lazarus Chakwera to win the presidency.

The re-run was held after the court overturned poll results over alleged rigging and other irregularities.

Official poll results released by state broadcaster MBC - but which apparently had nothing to do with Malawi’s electoral commission - show that the opposition candidate was leading.

President Peter Mutharika, who is seeking re-election for a second term, had garnered 38 percent of votes, while a third candidate, Peter Kuwani - regarded as a Joker in the Pack - collected less than 2 percent of votes.

Last year, Malawi became the second African nation to annul presidential election results over irregularities. Kenya did in 2017.

It was a rare - and for many an encouraging - judicial intervention on a continent where flawed, even stolen, elections are seldom overturned.

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Mr Chakwera’s supporters are already celebrating what they believe is an historic victory - in what would be the first time in sub-Saharan Africa that flawed election results have been overturned, and the opposition has gone on to win power democratically.

The results announced by the MBC come from all but three of 28 districts, according to Reuters news agency.

So far, the Malawi Electoral Commission has only announced results from 11 percent of the 5002 voting centres.

Opposition figures in several African countries have welcomed Mr Chakwera’s reported victory.

“New life to Malawi!,” said Zimbabwean opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa. “The Lord has given Malawi a Godly man,” he added, referring to Mr Chakwera’s past in the clergy.

But, the Mozambique-Tanzania Centre for Foreign Relations (CFR) director general, Prof Abdallah Safari, yesterday told The Citizen that the lesson Tanzania could draw from Malawi is that citizens in that southern African country have accepted changes.

The former vice chairman of the opposition Chadema said Malawi had the most independent Judiciary despite problems facing the country’s electoral body.

According to him, Tanzania’s constitution and electoral laws prevent presidential election results from being contested in court. This, he said, has to change to guarantee free, fair and credible elections.

“It is difficult for Tanzania to hold free, fair and credible elections without an independent electoral commission and amended constitution that allows presidential results to be challenged in court,” said Prof Safari, a practising lawyer.

But, Prof Bernadeta Killian of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said the elections in Malawi have been held according to the country’s constitution and laws governing elections - same as is the case in Tanzania.

She said Article 74 of the Union constitution and theextant electoral laws that are enforced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) give instructions on how general elections should be held in the country.

“If there is a lesson to be draw n from Malawi, then it is candidates’ readiness to accept election results. This is because where two different people contest for a position, one would win while the other would be the loser” she said.

Therefore, candidates should be ready to receive results in case of victory or defeat as country laws are very open in case someone doesn’t concede defeat, according to her.

But, on Tuesday immediately after casting his ballot in southern Malawi, Mr Mutharika alleged there had been violence in some opposition strongholds, according to Reuters.