Malawi holds presidential and parliamentary elections

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bingu Wa Mutharika, the President of Malawi and one of the leading contenders in Tuesday's presidential elections
Image: Eric Miller.

Malawians went to the polls on Tuesday to vote in a new parliament and president. 3,900 voting stations were set up throughout the country. Polls opened at 6.00 am local time, and closed at 18.00. Six million people have been registered to vote in the elections.

The leading candidates for the office of president include the incumbent, President Bingu wa Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and John Tembo, head of the coalition of the United Democratic Front and the Malawi Congress Party.

"[Politics] is the main game in town. We don't have the proliferation of cable TV and satellite TV. Only 6 percent of our population has access to electricity," said Rafiq Hajat, the executive director of the Institute for Policy Interaction, to the Voice of America news agency.

"The issues are very simple. It's all about how is my future going to be secured, how will I get my fertilizer? How will I be able to feed my family, and how will this leadership look after me?"

These elections are the fourth mulitparty ballots sine 1994, when the country took political pluralism and ended a decades-long autocratic rule by Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Bingu, the incumbent, won the 2004 presidential elections with 36% of the vote.


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