Malawi's musical elections


BLANTRYE, Malawi — Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika has been sworn in for a second term amid claims by the opposition that last week's election — widely viewed as a test for political stability — was rigged.

The electoral commission declared Mutharika, a former World Bank official credited with bringing economic gains to the southern African nation of 12 million, the victor early Friday.

After being sworn in, wa Mutharika — who campaigned on a platform of economic growth and food for the poor — vowed to prioritize food security and to keep up a fight against corruption that won praise from international donors.

"I shall continue to fight corruption because it is evil ... it robs the poor and denies them their legitimate right to a decent living," Reuters quoted him as telling a crowd at a stadium in the commercial capital of Blantyre.

Malawians went to the polls Tuesday for the fourth elections in the country's history after an election season of musical expression. Politics provide a source of entertainment in Malawi, with voters singing about their preferred candidate, the need to vote and the importance of unity.

Malawians had the option of re-electing Mutharika or replacing him with a candidate backed by his predecessor — the latest round in a five-year feud that has triggered rioting, an impeachment effort and parliamentary paralysis.

Mutharika won 2,730,630 of the votes counted, or 66 percent, compared to the 31 percent, or 1,270,057 votes, cast in favor of veteran opposition leader John Tembo. 

Mutharika based his campaign on a record of making Malawi a net food exporter and delivering three years of growth above 7 percent in the country of 13 million, where annual gross domestic product is only $313 per capita.

The Economist Intelligence Unit says Malawi is the world's second-fastest growing economy.

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