In conceding defeat to Peter Mutharika, the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Malawi’s president Joyce Banda earlier this week reinforced the stability of her country’s burgeoning democracy by establishing yet another precedent of a peaceful transfer of power, bringing to an end a feisty and competitive four-way election campaign.
But it’s difficult to be too sanguine about the country’s future prospects, given that the election has returned to power the brother of a former president whose administration sank under accusations of widespread corruption, repression, mismanagement and even, in its final days, treason.
Banda, formerly Malawi’s vice president, became president only in April 2012 following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president-elect’s late brother — and following a significant behind-the-scenes effort to deny the presidency to Banda, who had fallen out with the Mutharikas and was ejected from the DPP in 2010 when the then-president tried to eject Banda from the vice presidency in favor of his brother.
As Malawi’s electoral system doesn’t feature a runoff, the winner of the election is by plurality in a multi-candidate field — that means that more than six out of 10 Malawian voters chose a presidential candidate other than Peter Mutharika (pictured above). Though Malawians might not necessarily be excited about Mutharika, they were less excited about Banda, who placed third behind Lazarus Chakwera, a charismatic former preacher and the 24-year head of the Malawi Assemblies of God, and only narrowly led the fourth-place candidate, Atupele Muluzi, the son of a former president:
The sick man of southern Africa?
Malawi, with a population of 15.3 million, is the fourth-most populous country in southern Africa after South Africa, Mozambique and Angola. Formerly Nyasaland, it joined what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe as of the British-ruled Central African Federation before gaining its independence in 1964. Demographically, it is comprised of a mix of ethnic groups, with a Christian majority of around 70% and a Muslim minority of around 25%. Continue reading Banda concession clears way for Mutharika restoration