Will the presidential copy in Malawi inspire other African countries? ~ #AFP:
Lazarus Chakwera, who is to be invested on Monday, won the ballot by winning with 58.5% of the votes the outgoing head of state Peter Mutharika, whose re-election last year had been invalidated by the courts.
The landmark decision of the Malawian Constitutional Court, which has no precedent in sub-Saharan Africa except Kenya in 2017, is the culmination of long months of protests and an intense legal battle waged by a united opposition.
“For a year, they (the opposition) have persevered with large demonstrations against the unjustified theft of their vote despite the threats and the repression of a discredited government”, underlines the historian Paul Tiyambe Zeleza.
The victory of Lazarus Chakwera, a 65-year-old former evangelist pastor, is the result of “uninterrupted battles fought by the people for democracy” in a country with peaceful history, he added.
“The will of the people has turned against Mutharika (…) and has convinced judges, Election Commission officials and others to stand up,” adds Nic Cheeseman, professor of political science at the University of Birmingham. , UK.
“Congratulations to the people of Malawi!” Said the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy, summing up a very mixed feeling.
“This election is a testament to the strength of your institutions and your commitment to democracy,” he added on Twitter, referring to the judicial system of Malawi and its army, which intervened last year to ensure the protection of demonstrators hostile to the government.
Lazarus Chakwera’s victory “will undoubtedly influence the next elections on the African continent”, where presidents or parties have clung to power for decades, said Grant Masterson of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy (EISA), based in South Africa.
“Opposition leaders will be encouraged” to take more action to the courts and take to the streets more often, he added to AFP.
– New life –
Because unlike Kenya, where it confirmed the victory of outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta finally re-elected, the presidential replayed in Malawi allowed the alternation.
Several opponents from neighboring Malawi have also made no mistake.
Mmusi Maimane in South Africa and Nelson Chamisa in Zimbabwe did not even wait for the official announcement of Lazarus Chakwera’s victory to congratulate him. “New life in Malawi,” said Nelson Chamisa.
“There is a widespread perception that African voters are passive and apathetic” but “when enough citizens rise up, in Malawi, Sudan (2019-2020) or elsewhere, they ultimately achieve change,” said Grant Masterson.
“States which seek to frustrate the ambitions of their citizens can only succeed for a certain time,” he adds.
Still, in addition to the continuous mobilization of the streets and the credibility of the institutions, the opposition must be, as in Malawi, united, warns Grant Masterson.
For the June 23 election, Lazarus Chakwera managed to unite a dozen parties behind his candidacy.
He obtained key support from former president Joyce Banda (2012-2014) and especially from vice-president Saulos Chilima, who gave up running after coming in third position in the 2019 election.
In Zimbabwe, for example, where Zanu-PF has been in power since 1980, the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is deeply divided.
During the last presidential election organized in 2018, the outgoing head of state Emmerson Mnangagwa had in front of him no less than 22 candidates. In Malawi, only three candidates were running this year.