December 9, 2005

By-election results marred in controversy

Malawi's electoral body, the Electoral Commission (EC), has failed to release the outcome of the special parliamentary polls amid controversy surrounding the election results. The special election was conducted to fill six parliamentary seats that got vacant following deaths of legislators from the constituencies. Unofficial results from the polling centers indicated that President Bingu Wa Mutharika's newly formed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) scooped all the six seats in the polls which political analysts described as Mutharika's major political test. However, all major opposition parties in the country's parliament, the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the People's Progressive Movement ( PPM), the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and the Republican Party (RP), have all cried foul over DPP's purported win in the polls. They have accused Mutharika and his ministers of rigging the elections and flouting Malawi's election laws during the pre-polling period arguing that the president and his cabinet had government resources at their disposal during campaign period for the election.
EC spokesperson, Fergus Lipenga made clear that it was impossible to tell when the commission would announce the results of the polls. The unofficial results have shown that the DPP has wrestled three seats from the UDF, while PPM, RP and AFORD have lost a seat each to the president's party. Malawi's political analysts have concluded that the election results was a clear indication that people in Malawi now had confidence in President Mutharika and his party. The analysts have, however, warned that Mutharika's political future was still bleak as the six seats would not make DPP a formidable force to stop opposition UDF and MCP legislators from impeaching him in the national assembly. (Independent Online, South Africa)

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