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Malawi opposition rally against election ‘robbery’

Malawi’s President elect Arthur Peter Mutharika who was already sworn in two days ago receives a sword of office from Commander of the Malawi Defense Force during his inauguration at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on May 31, 2019, following his re-election during the country’s May 21, 2019, Tripartite Elections. – Mutharika who has been in power since 2014 got 1,940,709 votes beating his closest contender, Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party, MCP, who got 1,781,740 votes. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

About 3,000 Malawian opposition supporters marched through the capital Lilongwe Tuesday to protest alleged fraud in elections last month that returned Peter Mutharika as president.

Backers of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) allege their leader Lazarus Chakwera was robbed of victory in the May 21 election, which an official count showed he lost by just 159,000 votes.

The protest, which was peaceful, was the first street demonstration since the results were announced more than a week ago.

Chakwera has rejected the outcome as “daylight robbery” and launched a court battle to have the result annulled on the grounds of fraud.

The protestors marched from MCP headquarters about two kilometres (1.2 miles) to Capital Hill, the seat of the Malawi government, chanting anti-Mutharika slogans.

The march, dubbed “For Malawi to rise, Mutharika must fall” attracted protesters dressed in the MCP’s red and green colours, bringing central Lilongwe to a standstill.

MCP spokesman Eisenhower Mkaka told AFP “this is people that have been aggrieved.”

“The constitution does provide for peaceful demonstration and this is exactly what is happening.”

Last week, police used teargas to disperse Chakwera supporters gathered outside the party headquarters.

The MCP has said that election results sheets were covered in correction fluid and some from polling stations far apart bore the same handwriting.

“Whether you voted for us or not for us, I am your president. I am the president of all Malawians,” Mutharika said after his inauguration Friday.

EU deputy chief election observer Mark Stephens told AFP his team “acknowledge there were a lot of mistakes that were made in the tallying”.

“Our observers have been trying to collect as much detailed information as possible,” he said.

Mutharika, of the Democratic Progressive Party, was declared the victor with 38.57 percent of the vote, pipping Chakwera on 35.41 percent.

Third-placed presidential contender Saulos Chilima has also alleged “serious anomalies” in the poll.

The DPP also won the parliamentary vote held on the same day.

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