Daily Archives: May 23, 2009
Malawi held its fourth free multi-party since the advent of democracy in 1993. Albeit shaky at best and still a very poor nation, Malawi remains a democratic nation and miles better in that regard that a lot of African nations. President Bingu wa Mutharinka, elected in 2004 as the candidate of the United Democratic Front (UDF), a liberal party and the leading pro-democracy party since 1993 was re-elected for a second and last term, but under the etiquette of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a liberal party which he founded claiming the UDF was too corrupt. The UDF joined with the main opposition party and dominant party between 1962 and 1993, the nationalist Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Mutharinka’s re-election was far from a surprise, as he presided over an 8% economic growth and remains very popular.
In an election described as mostly free and fair, though the state media was biased in favour of the government, Bingu wa Mutharinka won 66.42% against 30.34% for his nearest rival, John Tembo of the MCP (supported by the UDF). In 2004, Mutharinka had won 35.9% of the vote against 27.1% for John Tembo. In the parliamentary elections (193 seats unicamerial legislature), the DPP won 78 seats, the MCP won 18 seats, the UDF won 12 seats, and two minor parties won one seat each. 23 Independents won seats. In 2004, the MCP won 59 seats, the UDF won 49, an electoral coalition named Mgwirizano Coalition won 27 seats. There were 14 members of minor parties and 38 Independents.
In the above map, Bingu wa Mutharinka is in blue and John Tembo is in red. As is usual for African elections, the vote split along ethnic lines. By the looks of it, Mutharinka clearly won the Tonga people in the north and the Yao (the UDF’s usual base) in the south-east. Though it seems that a Yao district, Mangochi, gave over 60% of the vote to Tembo. His lowest results come from central Malawi, populated by Nyanja people.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros held a referendum on May 17, 2009 on a large-scale reform of the volatile federal state. The referendum was proposed by President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, a Anjouan native, and opposed by the opposition parties and the islands of Grande Comore and Mohéli. This new setup will in fact downgrade the autonomous’ islands presidents to mere Governors and give the Union President power to dissolve Parliament (and extend his term to 2011). 93.9% voted in favour, but only 51.7% of voters bothered to vote. In fact, the opposition had called for a boycott. Symbolically, the new constitution makes Islam the state religion. Sambi is a moderate Islamist educated in Iran (he is often called the “Ayatollah of the Comoros” despite being Sunni), Sudan and Saudi Arabia. However, Sambi has said that he does not plan to make the Comoros an Islamist state.