The new President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera has said that his win in the rerun election was a "victory for democracy and justice" after he defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of votes at the poll.
Referring to the Biblical character bearing the same name, Mr. Chakwera said, "I do feel like Lazarus, I've come back from the dead”.
In February, Malawi's constitutional court annulled Mr. Mutharika's poll win in May 2019, citing vote tampering. The country was bitterly divided in the run-up to this week's election. However, Mr. Chakwera said those who did not support him had nothing to fear.
"There's no cause for fear because I will be your president and my policy for inclusivity means we are building a new Malawi for all of us. I'm not a president of a faction, I'm a president of everyone in the country”.
The newly elected president Lazarus Chakwera dismissed allegations by Mr. Mutharika that the poll was marred by violence and irregularities, saying his predecessor was "misled by rumors".
Mr. Chakwera, a Pentecostal preacher and former theology lecturer, said his role would be to unite and serve Malawians. His running mate, Saulos Chilima, was also sworn in as vice-president at a ceremony in the capital, Lilongwe.
In his words, "I want to provide leadership that makes everybody prosper, that deals decisively with corruption and theft of public funds and a leadership that will follow the rule of law”.
"I do feel like Lazarus, I've come back from the dead, it's been a long journey and we feel vindicated in a way," he said about winning the rerun election.
He made this statement on the back of other countries in Africa having had elections annulled. It happened in Kenya in 2017, but for the opposition candidate to then go on and win a rerun is unprecedented.
However, he said he would not stand in the way of Mr. Mutharika should he want to challenge the election.
Reasons for re-election
A rerun of the 2019 election was ordered after the Constitutional Court found the original ballot had been marred by widespread irregularities. That election saw President Mutharika narrowly re-elected by fewer than 159,000 votes.
Mr. Chakwera, who came second in that election, argued that tallying forms had been added up incorrectly and tampered with. Uncertainty around the result sparked months of tension, which spilled over into clashes between opposition supporters and police.
February's annulment led some to celebrate, but Mr. Mutharika described it as a "serious subversion of justice" which marked the death of the country's democracy.
There were concerns over the logistics and safety of carrying out an election in the midst of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.