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  • Christine Chumbler
    Violence Reported After Malawi Vote By Raphael Tenthani Associated Press Writer Friday, June 18, 1999; 1:15 p.m. EDT BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) -- Opposition
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 18, 1999
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      Violence Reported After Malawi Vote

      By Raphael Tenthani
      Associated Press Writer
      Friday, June 18, 1999; 1:15 p.m. EDT

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) -- Opposition supporters, alleging vote
      rigging, went on a rampage Friday in northern Malawi after unofficial
      results in the nation's elections gave President Bakili Muluzi an edge,
      police said.

      Police said a mosque was torched in the northern district of Rumphi, and
      supporters of the ruling party and the main opposition group clashed and
      hurled stones at each other in the northern town of Mzuzu.

      Muluzi is a Muslim in the mainly Christian, southern African nation.

      Shops and a hotel in Mzuzu owned by a ruling party official were looted
      and damaged, the statement said.

      An unspecified number of arrests were made and police reinforcements
      backed by military helicopters were being sent to a northern region that is
      home to opposition leader Chafukwa Chihana, police said. Chihana, a
      former labor leader, heads the Alliance for Democracy party.

      Earlier Friday, soldiers and riot police dispersed opposition supporters
      who stoned cars outside the High Court in the commercial capital,

      There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests there. Calm was
      restored after senior police officers warned about 500 opposition
      supporters in the High Court grounds they would open fire with tear gas
      and live ammunition, witnesses said.

      Earlier, court officials in Blantyre rejected an opposition request for a
      ruling on alleged vote-rigging in this impoverished country's second
      democratic elections, held on Tuesday.

      The opposition coalition of the Malawi Congress Party and the Alliance
      for Democracy withdrew its petition but said it would ask for a hearing
      next week on its allegations of vote fraud, said High Court registrar Bitiku

      Unofficial results Friday gave Muluzi, who won the country's first
      multiparty vote in 1994, 2.4 million votes and alliance rival Gwanda
      Chakuamba 2.1 million votes in the presidential race.

      Returns from parliamentary constituencies for the 193-seat legislature
      were also still to be confirmed, but unofficial tallies put the ruling party and
      the alliance level with 94 seats each.

      Four other seats were captured by independent candidates and one seat
      was nullified after the main candidate died just before polling.

      One electoral commission official, Fahad Assani, described the unofficial
      tallies, given by party agents across the country and regional offices of the
      state-controlled radio Friday, as ``not far from the truth.''

      The 1994 election ended three decades of brutal rule under dictator
      Kamuzu Banda, who founded the Malawi Congress Party and led the
      former British colony of Nyasaland to independence as Malawi. Banda
      died in 1997.

      Bazuka Mhango, a lawyer for the opposition alliance, said the opposition
      alleged registration of Malawi's 4.8 million eligible voters was given
      priority in ruling party strongholds mainly in the south.

      ``There's no way the election can be seen as free and fair. There are clear
      indications rigging has taken place,'' Mhango said.

      Malawi, a narrow, mountainous Portugal-sized country of 11 million
      people, is ranked 161 among the world's 174 least-developed nations.
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