- Malawi's re-elected President Bingu wa Mutharika had no time to lose and opted for an early inauguration ceremony today to cement his disputed election. The Presidents of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique were hastily flown in, while other Southern African countries were represented with other dignitaries.
According to official results, Mr Muthakira secured a 3-1 lead against the opposition alliance led by John Tembo, which is said to have only amassed a quarter of the national vote. Only shortly after the incumbent was announced the winner of the poll, the inauguration ceremony was announced, despite opposition protests.
Opposition leader Tembo already yesterday loudly protested the still unfinished official results, claiming the Malawi vote had been rigged in favour of the incumbent. He was somewhat backed by international observers, saying Mr Mutharika had been given an unfair amount of positive coverage in state media.
Mr Tembo also protested that the President celebrates his inauguration while all the votes have not even been counted.
Indeed, the Malawi Electoral Commission at the time of the ceremony today only had counted 93 percent of the votes. Nonetheless, Commission leader Justice Anastansia Msosa had announced that Mr Mutharika had won elections by a landslide and that the still uncounted votes could not change that result. She thus declared "the leading candidate duly elected."
For the President, also the official results of the parliamentary vote were a knock-out victory. Mr Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) now for the first time will hold a parliamentary majority, enabling the President to implement his policies and stop fearing an aggressive opposition that has threatened with impeachment several times.
Today's inauguration ceremony was arranged in the Kamuzu national stadium in Blantyre. According to media reports from Blantyre, the 50,000-capacity arena had been packed full, despite the short notice given.
Contrary to tradition in the Southern African region, only a few of the neighbouring countries' state leaders attended the ceremony, due to the hurry in which it was arranged. Present were Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Rupiya Banda of Zambia and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique.
Tanzania found time and capacity to fly in its Vice-President, Ali Mohammed Shein. Other neighbours, including South Africa, Angola, Swaziland and Lesotho, sent representatives of a lower status.
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