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Ah, democracy

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi opposition threatens to reject poll Voting has been peaceful, despite fears of disruption Malawi s main opposition alliance has warned that it will not
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 16, 1999
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      Malawi opposition threatens
      to reject poll

      Voting has been peaceful, despite fears of disruption

      Malawi's main opposition alliance has warned that it will
      not accept an unfavourable result from this week's
      general election.

      "We believe we would win fair elections, but these have
      not been free and fair in my view, and we will not accept
      defeat under the circumstances," said Dan Msowoya,
      spokesman for the Alliance for Democracy (Aford).

      He said he was speaking on behalf of the electoral
      alliance comprising Aford and the Malawi Congress
      Party (MCP), which is seeking to unseat President
      Bakili Muluzi's United Democratic Front.

      "We will seek court intervention if the election goes
      against us," Mr Msowoya said.

      Large turn-out

      As counting continued, indications were that over 90% of
      registered voters had gone to the polls in Tuesday's
      election - Malawi's second since the transition to
      democracy five years ago.

      There is as yet no indication of the final results, but state
      radio reported that the opposition alliance had made
      gains.

      The election was marred by a row over the registration
      process, which resulted in some 100,000 eligible voters
      not being allowed to take part.

      Those without registration were told to stay away from
      polling stations or risk arrest.

      Muluzi confident


      By contrast with the
      opposition, President Muluzi
      said he would accept defeat
      if the ballot went against him.

      "I am confident I am going to
      win, but I will accept defeat
      because I defend
      democracy," he said as he
      voted.

      President Muluzi won the
      1994 elections which ended
      30 years of one-party rule by
      the MCP, under the self-proclaimed Life President
      Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

      Both Mr Muluzi and the MCP-Aford presidential
      candidate, Gwanda Chakuamba, once served as
      ministers under Dr Banda.

      The UDF and the MCP-Aford alliance are each believed
      to have roughly 50% of the vote. Smaller parties have
      little chance of making an impact on the election.

      In the last parliament - made up of 177 seats - the UDF
      held 76, the MCP 68 and Aford 33.

      Regional strengths


      Voting patterns in Malawi are
      largely based on regional
      affiliations.

      The north of the country is
      loyal to Aford, the centre to
      the MCP and the densely
      populated south to the UDF.

      The northern region has
      consistently asserted that it
      has been deprived of
      investment and development
      by the government of Mr Muluzi - a charge the
      government denies.
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