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Malawi opposition leader petitions to nullify vote results

May 31, 2019
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Malawi's President Peter Mutharika greets supporters during his inauguration ceremony at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, Malawi, Friday May 31, 2019. Mutharika narrowly won re-election with 38% of the votes in last week's polls, the electoral commission declared Monday. (AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi)

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — The Malawi opposition leader who placed a close second in the presidential election said Friday he has petitioned the High Court to nullify the results, calling them “daylight robbery.”

Lazarus Chakwera spoke to reporters as President Peter Mutharika in his inaugural speech urged the southern African nation to move on. The 78-year-old won a second term with 38% of the vote to Chakwera’s 35% in the May 21 election.

Chakwera called on Malawians to protest, alleging election irregularities. The court earlier in the week threw out an injunction he obtained to briefly stop the electoral commission from releasing final voting results. He had sought a recount in 10 of the country’s 28 districts but the commission said they had been checked at several stages.

Mutharika in his speech said “whether you voted for us or not, I am still your president” and that violence would only destroy the country. He has rejected accusations of corruption and the comment by Chakwera that his ruling Democratic Progressive Party government is a “mafia state.”

Both the ruling party and Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party since election results were announced have accused each other of retaliation against party supporters.

“Let us be agents of peace,” Mutharika said in what was seen as a direct appeal to Chakwera, who is also a preacher.

Third-place candidate Saulos Chilima, the former deputy to Mutharika who broke away months ago, also has petitioned to have election results nullified.

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