Malawi’s new president Lazarus Chakwera was sworn in for a five-year term on Sunday, hours after beating former leader Peter Mutharika in a re-run election.
Chakwera, 65, won 58.57% of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, a dramatic reversal of the result of the original election in May 2019, which was later overturned by the courts, according to Reuters report.
The repeat vote was regarded by analysts as a test of the ability of African courts to tackle ballot fraud and restrain presidential power.
“To stand before you as president today is an honour. It’s an honour that fills with unspeakable joy and immense gratitude,” Chakwera said in his acceptance speech.
“With your help, we will restore a new generation’s faith in the possibility of having a government that serves, not a government that rules,” he told a cheering crowd dressed in the colours of his own Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the allied party of Vice President Saulos Chilima.
MCP is Malawi’s founding party and Chakwera’s win brings it back into power after 26 years in opposition.
On February 4, the constitutional court in Malawi has annulled 2019 disputed presidential election results, citing widespread irregularities and ordered a new vote.
The election last May returned the sitting president to power, leading to deadly confrontations and widespread unrest.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) had declared President Peter Mutharika the narrow winner of the May election with 38 percent of votes, followed by Lazarus Chakwera with 35 percent and former Vice President Saulos Chilima third with 20 percent.
Following the Malawi’s Constitutional Court ruling in February, it enlisted Malawi in an exclusive club of only five countries in the world that have had results of presidential elections nullified, second in Africa.
Kenya became first in Africa in September 2017, in a historic ruling that was delivered by Chief Justice David Maraga, placing the country fourth globally to have annulled the election.
Ukraine annulled its presidential elections in 2004 after Victor Yanukovych, who had lost to Victor Yuchchenko after the second round, went to court seeking to annul the results.
In Maldives, the country’s Supreme Court invalidated the results of 2013 first-round presidential elections pitting former President Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen where latter had won. A repeat polled was held and it produced similar results.
In Austria, the Constitutional Court of Austria ordered a repeat vote after ruling that Austria electoral was disregarded in 14 of 117 administrative districts.
Additional report by Reuters