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Opposition Leader Wins Malawi Election Rerun

FILE - Lazarus Chakwera, leader of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the main Malawi opposition party, gives an interview to Agence France Presse (AFP) at his MCP headquarters in Lilongwe, Jan. 24, 2019.

Lazarus Chakwera, leader of Malawi’s opposition, has won his nation’s presidential election rerun, defeating incumbent President Peter Mutharika.

Chakwera, 65 and leader of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), won late Saturday with 58% of the vote, or 2.6 million votes out of 4.4 million cast. Mutharika received 1.7 million.

"I'm so happy I could dance all night," Chakwera, former leader of the Malawi Assemblies of God church, told reporters. "This is a win for Malawians, a win for democracy."

The victory came after months of street protests and a unanimous Constitutional Court ruling that widespread irregularities in the May 2019 election could not stand.

Mutharika, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who had sought a second five-year term, alleged his party's monitors had been beaten and intimidated, but the Malawi Human Rights Commission, an observer, called the vote peaceful and transparent.

Peter Kuwani of the opposition Mbakuwaku Movement for Democracy (MMD) was the third candidate.

Mutharika now must either challenge the results or step aside.

Electoral Commission Chairperson Chifundo Kachale said turnout was 64% of 6.8 million registered voters.

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