Some 1,500 ballot boxes from May’s disputed election in Malawi have been destroyed in an unexplained fire. It comes amid an opposition demand for a recount of voting papers for a parliamentary seat in a constituency in the capital, Lilongwe. The High Court was set to hear arguments about the case on Thursday. In May, it overruled an attempt by former President Joyce Banda to annul the presidential vote, which she said was marred by rigging. Peter Mutharika, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was declared the winner, taking 36.4% of the presidential vote.
IN THE days after Malawi’s elections on May 20th one thing that seemed clear: Joyce Banda, the sitting president, had lost. But it was only on May 31th, after a court turned down a lawsuit to force a recount, when the electoral commission announced that Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had won with 36.4%. Ms Banda (20.2%) lagged behind even Lazarus Chikwera, a political newcomer and former preacher, who garnered 27.8%. It is rare thing for an incumbent to lose an African election; it is almost unheard of for one to come third.
Peter Mutharika was sworn in Saturday as Malawi’s new president after his arch-rival and predecessor Joyce Banda congratulated him and urged the country to move on from the disputed vote. Mutharika, the brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office in 2012, appealed to the 11 other presidential candidates to “join me in rebuilding the country” after some — including Banda — contested the results. Joining Vice President Saulos Chilima in taking the oath of office before a chief justice, Mutharika said he felt “very humbled” to stand as the fifth president of the impoverished southern African nation.