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Malawi Incumbent President Mutharika to Be Sworn-in Friday

Malawi's incumbent President Bingu wa Mutharika is expected to be sworn in Friday to begin his second five-year term after winning the May 19 presidential election.

With over 90 percent of the certified results released by the Independent Electoral Commission, President Mutharika has over 55 percent of the vote. But main opposition leader John Tembo of the Malawi Congress Party has rejected the results, claiming the election was rigged.

Backed by former President Bakili Muluzi in a coalition, Tembo vowed to challenge the election results in court. VOA's Malawi correspondent Lameck Masina said that several heads of state in the southern African region have arrived to participate in Friday's inauguration of President-elect Mutharika.

"It's true that Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika has won the elections and the swearing in ceremony would be held today Friday. In fact according to the information statistics from the electoral commission, Mutharika has won with a landslide," Masina said.

He said the opposition leader's objection to the election results has not been welcomed by some Malawians.

"The situation is a sort of mixed reaction towards what John Tembo is saying because Tembo himself when he saw that Mutharika was leading he issued a statement saying that he will reject the results because he claimed that they were rigged," he said.

Masina said some of the presidential aspirants have already congratulated incumbent President Mutharika for winning the just ended election.

"In fact we have seen some of the presidential contestants have conceded defeat," Masina said.

He said former President Muluzi also conceded defeat in an interview with a private local radio station.

"In the interview he was congratulating Mutharika," he said.

Masina said leaders within the southern African community are in the country to participate in the swearing in ceremony of President Mutharika.

"Some of them are King Mswati (absolute Monarch of Swaziland) and also Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Rupiah Banda of Zambia," Masina said.

He said the ordinary Malawian reposes confidence in Mutharika's economic policies.

"Definitely and this would be a continuation of what Mutharika has been doing because one of the reasons why Mutharika has won is because of the improvement in the agricultural sector and also improvement in the economy of the country," he said.

Masina said the large majority of Malawians who voted for the incumbent president are rejoicing in the streets.

"In fact Malawians are happy because it is not a surprise that Mutharika has won because most of the things which Mutharika has done to develop the country are here to see," Masina said.

Opposition leader John Tembo maintained he had evidence the vote had been rigged and would present his case in court.

But the Commonwealth election monitoring mission, led by Ghana's former President John Kufuor said although incumbent President Mutharika had exploited state media to gain an unfair advantage in the election, Tembo should drop his protest.

Both local and international observers said the election was organized in a free and fair environment.

Some Malawi political observers say incumbent President Mutharika's success in the just ended election could be attributed to his management of the economy, which they said has performed creditably well with the country enjoying food security for the first time in as many years.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Malawi's economy under President Mutharika had the world's second-fastest growing economy.

There are reported frictions in the opposition coalition between the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by former President Bakili Muluzi.

Former President Muluzi has been an arch rival of Mutharika, leading to a protracted power struggle between the two which almost paralyzed parliament, prompting a failed impeachment bid and allegations of a coup plot that reportedly unnerved crucial Western donors.

Muluzi entered into an alliance with MCP after he was barred from participating in the just ended election and future elections by the electoral commission.

The electoral body said Muluzi had served the maximum two consecutive five-year terms as Malawi's leader from 1994 to 2004 making him ineligible to represent any political party in an election.