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AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika casts his vote at a polling station near Blantyre, Malawi

Malawi’s president has been declared winner of the country’s closest ever election

Rabson Kondowe
By Rabson Kondowe in Blantyre Malawi

Malawi’s president Peter Mutharika has been declared the winner in a close election which ended up in court after the opposition claimed there have been incidents of vote manipulation.

Mutharika won with 1.9 million votes representing 38.57%, according to the Malawi Electoral Commission, narrowly ahead of Malawi Congress Party ‘s Lazarus Chakwera who came second just like in the last election back in 2014. Chakwera got 1.8 million votes representing 35.41%.

Saluos Chilima a former Airtel executive was Mutharika’s deputy in his first term but jumped ship arguing that Mutharika’s adminstration was so corrupt. He formed his own party the United Transformstion Movement in a bid to run against his boss and he came third with just over 1 million votes representing 20.24%.

Nearly 7 million people registered to vote in an election which was described as the most unpredictable election the country has ever witnessed. About 5 million people turned up for polling. A total of 74,719 votes were declared null and void.

On May 25, the Malawi Congress Party got a court injunction halting the electoral commission in releasing the presidential results arguing that the results were seriously marred. The party wanted a recount in 10 districts were electoral irregularities occurred.

One notable incident was the arrest of a Malawi Electoral Commission official who was allegedly tampering with the result sheets from the constituency’s tally centers which were under him. The official, allegedly, erased some results from the result sheets from the polling centers with correction fluid and inserted other figures.

However the Malawi high court lifted the injunction which gave the electoral commission powers to release the presidential results. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commission has thoroughly reviewed all the complaints that were lodged for the presidential election and we declare the presidential elections to be free and fair and these results are the true reflection of the will of the people of Malawi,” said Jane Ansah the chairperson of the commission at a briefing in Blantyre.

The opposition have been claiming that the polls were flawed since the vote counting process began. On Saturday, Chilima called for a fresh election due to the serious electoral irregularities

On May 22, a day after Malawians voted, Chakwera warned of alleged attempts to rig the vote, saying his party had conducted its own count which showed that he was ahead.

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