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Malawi's new governing party fails to get majority parliamentary seats

LUSAKA, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Malawi's newly-elected governing party has failed to take majority parliamentary seats, a move that will make it difficult to make decisions in the National Assembly unless it enters into a coalition with other opposition parties, results released by the country's electoral body late Monday night shown.

Out of the 192 parliamentary seats that were up for grabs during the May 20 tripartite elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), only managed to get 50 seats while the former ruling People's Party (PP) only managed a paltry 26 seats.

The Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which is Malawi's first party to rule the African nation after independence from Britain, got 48 seats while the United Democratic Front (UDF) had 14 seats.

Independent candidates had a good showing, gaining 52 seats while one seat each went two small parties. One seat was not contested for due to the death of one of the candidates.

According to analysts, Malawi will have a hung parliament, meaning that no party has majority seats and the governing party will need the goodwill of other parties to pass important legislation.

According to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) final results, the parliamentary elections also saw 30 females being elected as lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the governing party got 165 seats in the local government elections while the MCP had 131 seats and the PP 65. The UDF got 57 seats while 35 seats went to independent candidates. Two small parties had one seat each while elections in five wards did not take place.

MEC chairperson Maxon Mwondera said in the statement that the commission strived to ensure that it delivered a credible and transparent electoral process and thanked voters for the peaceful and calm way in which they conducted themselves.

"The MEC has striven to ensure that very vote counts in these elections. This was a unique process, allowing for the concurrent election of the President, Vice-President, 193 parliamentary seats for the National Assembly and 462 councilor seats across 35 councils," he said.

He further said candidates with complaints will have seven days in which to petition the electoral outcome in the High Court.

According to a final analysis of the elections, a total of 1, 292 parliamentary candidates from 17 parties and 417 independent candidates competed, with 261 being women while for local councilor elections, 2,412, candidates from 18 parties and 576 independent candidates competed of which 419 were women.

The commission said 5,234,506 votes were cast in parliamentary elections representing 70.07 percent of registered voters. Of these votes, 74,634 votes or 1.43 percent were deemed null and void.

For local government elections, 5,153, 993 votes were cast, representing 68.99 percent of registered voters. Of these, 121,170 or 2.35 percent votes were deemed null and void.

"The commission is satisfied with the way the electoral process was conducted in an orderly, calm and peaceful manner. The level of null and void across all races was historically low in Malawi," electoral chief said.

Professor Peter Mutharika of the DPP was declared winner of the presidential election with 36 percent of the vote while Reverend Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP was second with 27 percent of the votes. Dethroned Joyce Banda only managed 20 percent of the votes.

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