Opposition politician, Lazarus Chakwera has won Tuesday’s presidential re-run election in Malawi, according to the country’s Electoral Commission.
He defeated incumbent President, Peter Mutharika with 58.57% (2.6 million votes) of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, the electoral commission announced late Saturday. Mutharika received 1.7 million out of 4.4 million cast.
Celebrations have broken out in the capital, Lilongwe.
Chakwera from the opposition party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) won the elections on his second attempt to reach the presidency, after a campaign dominated by the country’s faltering economy.
The election was the second time in just over a year, after incumbent President, Peter Mutharika’s re-election was annulled by the courts over irregularities.
About 6.8 million people were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s rerun, practically a two-horse race between Mutharika and Lazarus Chakwera.
The Constitutional Court in early February ruled that the May 2019 vote was fraught with “grave and widespread irregularities”, including the use of correction fluid on results sheets.
It ordered new elections be held within 150 days of its February ruling.
Mutharika slammed the verdict as a “serious miscarriage of justice” and, along with the electoral commission, filed an appeal.
But on May 8, the Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling, setting the stage for Malawians to return to the polls again.
In last year’s nullified vote, the 79-year-old incumbent – an academic and brother of former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika – was handed a second term in office with 38.57 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of his main challenger, Lazarus Chakwera, at 35.41 percent.
The re-run required a candidate to garner more than 50 percent of the votes to be declared the outright winner and avoid the possibility of a runoff, results Chakwera has got.
President elect, Chakwera has described his electoral victory in the fresh elections as “a win for democracy and justice.”
“My heart is bubbling with joy,” said Chakwera after being declared winner.
I am so happy I could dance all night.This is a win for Malawians, a win for democracy,” posted Chakwera on his social media platforms on Sunday.
Outgoing President Peter Mutharika, who had sought a second five-year term, called this new election flawed but has urged the country to “move on peacefully” and respect the presidency as a sacred office.
The new President is expected to be sworn in later today at Parliament in the administrative capital of Lilongwe, an event to be presided over by the country’s Chief Justice.
He will take the oath of office as Head of State and government but a presidential inauguration ceremony will be held later.