The 78-year-old Peter Mutharika was sworn in for a second five-year term as Malawi’s president under the shadow of vote rigging.
Peter Mutharika was sworn in for a second five-year term as Malawi’s president on Tuesday under the shadow of vote rigging.
The 78-year-old took the oath of office a day after the Electoral Commission declared him the winner of the hotly contested May 21 general elections.
Everton Chimulirenji was also sworn in as vice president at the same ceremony before Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
Mutharika, a law professor, urged his rivals to join him in rebuilding the country.
“In elections, there can only be one winner. The election is gone. Let us now move on to rebuild this nation,” he said.
Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah declared Mutharika "president-elect" Monday despite attempts by Lazarus Chakwera, his main rival and leader of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), to dispute the results and have a vote recount in 10 of the country’s 28 districts due to what he called “anomalies”.
The High Court, which had on Saturday granted Chakwera temporary relief by stopping the Electoral Commission from announcing the results, lifted the order to allow the commission to do so.
The MCP and another candidate, former vice president Saulos Chilima, are still disputing the results.
Free and fair elections
Both local and international observers have described the elections as free and fair.
Steve Duwa, chairperson of local think tank the Malawi Electoral Support Network, told Anadolu Agency the election reflects the views of Malawians.
“The presidential [election] results and the challenges incurred clearly tell us we can do better as a country in terms of embracing change. But that aside, the polls were free and fair,” he said.
Miroslav Poche, chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Malawi, said in a statement that although voting was generally peaceful, the playing field was not level as there was a misuse of state resources by the ruling party.
Malawians went to the polls last Tuesday to elect 193 members of parliament, 462 local government councilors, and the president.
Nearly 5.1 million people voted, the election body said.
Mutharika came to power in 2014 as the country's fifth president after defeating then-incumbent president Joyce Banda.