Who are Malawi′s top presidential contenders? | Africa | DW | 27.05.2019
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Africa

Who are Malawi's top presidential contenders?

Find out more about Malawi's three main presidential hopefuls as the country awaits the results of a partial recount ordered by the court on Saturday.

Peolple are clustered around ballot papers counting votes

Tension is high in Malawi as election officials undertake a partial election recount following vote-rigging complaints from the main opposition party. The Electoral Commission has been ordered not to announce results until the recount is completed. There is no indication of when this could be. 

Lazarus Chakwera

 Lazarus Chakwera holds up a hand as he speaks at a rally

Lazarus Chakwera currently serves as an MP for Lilongwe Northwest constituency

Lazarus Chakwera, 64, is a former pastor who lost to current President Peter Mutharika in the 2014 elections with 28% of the vote. He is the president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the country's main official opposition party. On the campaign trail, he promised to crack down on corruption. 

In 2013, Chakwera resigned from church-related matters in order to concentrate more on politics. At these elections, his MCP party formed an electoral alliance with the Peoples Party, led by Joyce Banda, Mutharika's predecessor. Analysts say alliance could be Chakwera's best chance of reclaiming power for the MCP, which governed Malawi from independence in 1964 until 1994.

Peter Mutharika

Peter Mutharika stands in front of podium speaking into a microphone

Peter Mutharika is the oldest candidate running in Malawi's presidential elections

Peter Mutharika, 78, has been head of state since 2014 when he won 34.5% of the vote to replace Joyce Banda, the country's first female president. Mutharika, a former law professor, campaigned for a second-five year term largely on improving infrastructure and lowering inflation in Malawi. But his government has been dogged by several high profile corruption scandals and accusations of nepotism. 

Analysts say Mutharika, the head of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won the 2014 election by associating himself with the legacy of his brother, former President Bingu wa Mutharika. He was also helped by the 'Cashgate' corruption scandal that engulfed his predecessor Joyce Banda in the months leading up to the 2014 election.

Saulos Chilima

Saulos Chilima speaks into a microphone

Vice President Saulos Chilima split with Mutharika to run against him in 2019

Saulos Chilima, 46, is Malawi's vice president, a trained economist and a former telecoms executive. After falling out with Mutharika, Chilima quit the ruling DPP in 2018 and formed his own party, the United Transformation Movement (UTM).

With support from his wife, Mary Chilima, Chilima tried to capture the youth vote – who make up more than half of Malawi's registered 6.8 million voters in the 2019 elections – with an energetic social media campaign featuring hip-hop videos. 

 

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