Malawi at long last has a newly sworn-in president following a 13 month election process. On June 23, opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera won the country’s rerun presidential vote defeating incumbent President Peter Mutharika with more than 58 percent of the vote.
The first presidential election was held back in May 2019 when President Mutharika claimed a narrow victory. But Mr. Chakwera, who came in second place, alleged voter fraud and appealed to Malawi’s Constitutional Court. The Court found evidence of widespread irregularities and in February 2020 ordered a new election to be held. Malawi is only the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities following Kenya in 2017.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed admiration for the commitment to the rule of law and democracy exhibited during Malawi’s presidential elections:
“The people of Malawi elected Lazarus Chakwera as their next president. This is only the second time that a court in Africa, has overturned a presidential election tainted by irregularities, and the only time that a re-election process has resulted in the election of an opposite party candidate. Truly a historic opportunity for the people of that country.”
President Chakwera has called his election a “win for democracy and justice.” In his inaugural address, he promised not to put himself above the rule of law: "This means that as required by law, I will make a full declaration of my assets each year; I will go to parliament to be questioned by the people about my handling of state affairs; I will propose legislation to reduce the powers of the presidency and empower institutions to operate independently, including parliament and the Anti-Corruption Bureau.”
This is an historic opportunity for Malawi to work toward a future of greater prosperity, government accountability, and freedom.