Malawi’s Mutharika wins reelection by slim margin

President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Incumbent Malawian President Peter Mutharika has been declared the winner of the tightly contested presidential election while the opposition political parties claimed there were irregularities in the election.

Mutharika won with 38.57 percent of the votes against his closest rival Lazarus Chakwera, the country’s main opposition leader of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who gained 35.41 percent of the votes. Vice-President Saulos Chilima was third with 20.24 percent of the votes.

The 78-year-old Mutharika, 78, recorded a slight increase in the number of votes won from 36.4 percent he received in 2014.

However, the elections were also tight in the parliamentary race with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winning 62 seats in the 193-seat parliament while the main opposition party got 55 seats, with independents also getting 55 seats.

The opposition political parties had raised complaints ranging from the number of registered in some polling stations and the number of votes cast not tallying, the use of correction fluid to change results and the issue of some presiding officers going away with result sheets.

The electoral body acknowledged that it received a total of 147 complaints from political parties but noted that all the complaints were resolved and it was confident that the announced results reflect the will of voters.

“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,” Justice Jane Ansah said during a press briefing at the National Tallying Center.

International observers, which include the Commonwealth Electoral Observer Mission, the European Union (EU) Electoral Observer Mission and the African Union (AU) Electoral Observer Mission all expressed delight over the manner the elections were managed despite a few challenges.