- The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Sunday afternoon declared the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika winner of the 20 May Presidential and Parliamentary elections, defeating a divided opposition which arrogantly rejected attempts by the churches and civil society to face the elections as a common front.
"Why are people desperately forcing us to join the Mgwirizano Coalition. The message is simple, we are the strongest opposition party right now and we have fielded the highest number of MPs. We are going it alone," fumed Publicity Secretary Salule Masangwi of the opposition NDA party soon after attempts by the churches to unite the opposition collapsed.
"Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is a strong party and has grassroots structures countrywide and if needs be, it is ready to go it alone," MCP President John Tembo told 'The Chronicle' in an exclusive interview at his house earlier when asked if he believed MCP could win the elections as a single party.
Mr Mutharika - an economist, who was dragged from the Reserve Bank of Malawi where he was Deputy Governor by outgoing Head of State Bakili Muluzi - won the Thursday elections with 1,119,783 votes, with John Tembo of the MCP coming second with 846,457 votes, while Mgwirizano Coalition Presidential candidate Gwanda Chakuamba came third with 802,386 votes.
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential candidate Brown Mpinganjira - who continually proclaimed to Malawians that his NDA would win the elections without joining hands with other opposition parties - came fourth with only 272,172 votes, while independent presidential candidate Justin Malewezi - who broke away from the Mgwirizano Coalition with Jimmy Koreia Mpatsa - came last with 78,892 votes.
Unofficial parliamentary results show that the UDF will have 54 Members of Malawi's new Parliament, Congress for National Unity (CONU) of Bishop Daniel Nkhumbwa one, PETRA of Kamuzu Chibambo one and there will be 30 MPs who have entered parliament as independents.
MCP has almost swept all seats in the central region, while in the Northern region AFORD has lost its grip, giving away most of their seats to Republican Party (RP), People's Progressive Movement (PPM), Movement for Genuine Democracy (MGODE) and independents.
Meanwhile, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has said though it realises that the electoral process was unsatisfactory due to MEC inadequacies, Malawians should desist from all forms of violence.
"We also appeal to all religious groupings to desist from violence. Religion is about peace and unity," said PAC in its press release signed by PAC's Head of Programmes Robert Phiri.
Despite worries from the public that the UDF had rigged the elections, the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) statement - that was not available to us as we were going to press - reportedly concurred with the MEC that Mr Mutharika was the winner, followed by Mr Tembo and then Mr Chakuamba on third position.
Earlier, the Mgwirizano Coalition president had declared himself winner of the polls after the MEC failed to announce the results. It was only after nearly 70 hours later after close of the poll that the announcement was made.
It is still unclear if Gwanda Chakuamba will contest the results of the poll for a second time in two elections. In 1999 he challenged the MEC but lost when the court ruled that Bakili Muluzi had won.
Reports from the Republican Party headquarters in Sunnyside say there was a break-in at the offices of the vice president of the party, veteran lawyer Bazuka Mhango, where computers and important documents that were stored as evidence were taken, which they say could prove that there was massive rigging by the UDF.
As we were going to press, reports from Blantyre indicate that disgruntled citizens were running amok and destroying property, with some breaking into People's Trading Centre (PTC) shops and BP filling stations. Riot police were evident in most cities to quell any unrest and bring a semblance of order nationwide.
By Levison Mwase, Pilirani Phiri & Wezzie Nyirongo
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