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Winner Declared in Disputed Malawi Election

Saturday, 31 May 2014 08:30 AM

A candidate who promised to tackle hunger in Malawi was named the winner of  the disputed May 20 presidential elections, amid allegations of vote rigging and fraud by his rivals, officials in the southeast African nation said Friday.

Peter Mutharika of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party won 36 percent of the votes cast, Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party got 28 percent and incumbent President Joyce Banda won only 20 percent, according to results released by the Malawi Electoral Commission. The Congress Party refused to recognize the results and plans to challenge them, Jesse Kabwila, a spokesman, told reporters. Mutharika was sworn in Saturday, the BBC reported.

Earlier, Malawi’s top court ruled that the election results must be reported by Friday, although various political parties have called for a recount and cited irregularities.

Mutharika, 74, served in the Cabinet of his brother Bingu wa Mutharika, who drew international criticism following a violent crackdown against opponents prior to his death in office in April 2012. His campaign centered on improving food security in a nation where about half the population survives on less than $1 a day.

Peter Muthanika was “deeply involved” in mismanagement that prevailed during his brother’s rule and tried to succeed him in violation of the constitution, which decreed that the post should go to Banda, who was deputy president, said Gary van Staden, a political analyst at NKC Independent Economists.

Bingu wa Mutharika initially won plaudits for ending years of intermittent food shortages and reviving the economy. His reputation soured in July 2011, when his security forces killed 19 people protesting fuel shortages and rising food costs. Opposition to his rule continued until he fell ill and died.

Banda was expelled from the Democratic Progressive Party in 2011 after refusing to endorse Peter Mutharika as its vice president candidate for this year’s election. She later formed the People’s Party.

Her odds of retaining the presidency worsened after she alienated key allies by firing her Cabinet in October and asking international investigators to probe allegations that as much as 30 percent of state funds were being pilfered. 

The Malawi Congress Party sought to block the announcement of the election results until a recount had been undertaken, while Banda tried to annul the election and have a rerun in 90 days.

Malawi is Africa’s top exporter of burley tobacco, a low- grade variety of the crop. Limbe Leaf Tobacco Co., a unit of U.S.-based Universal Corp., Alliance One International Inc. and Japan Tobacco Inc. are among buyers of the nation’s crop.

 

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A candidate who promised to tackle hunger in Malawi was named the winner of the disputed May 20 presidential elections, amid allegations of vote rigging and fraud by his rivals, officials in the southeast African nation said Friday.
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Saturday, 31 May 2014 08:30 AM
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