This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS LILONGWE 000049
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV KDEM MI SUBJECT: RULING PARTY GAINS IN BY-ELECTIONS
1. Official results released by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Thursday indicate that the eight By- Elections held on Tuesday January 12 resulted in a gain of six Parliamentary seats for the governing United Democratic Front (UDF) and its allies. The UDF picked up two seats, while two Independents likely to align with the UDF were also elected. The Republican Party and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) picked up a seat each. The opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) managed to win the remaining seats.
2. Despite the government's overall success, President Mutharika failed to get his favored candidate elected in his home district, where a candidate aligned with UDF National Chairman Bakili Muluzi was elected on an independent ticket. The UDF also failed to get its candidate elected to the seat won in 2004 by Vice President Chilumpha (who is unable to hold the position concurrently as Vice President), which the Malawi Congress Party won.
3. The MEC Chairwoman, Justice Anastazia Msosa, who declared the exercise free and fair, reported voter turn out as 33.12%. She attributed this to seasonality, noting that people are currently focused on farming. However, she said MEC would work to find out why so few showed up to vote. The MEC will release a report on the by-elections later in the year.
4. COMMENT. The results of this election are a major gain for the UDF as a party, but it is unclear what impact they will have on governance. In light of the ever-widening rift between party and government, increased UDF representation could, depending on which side the new Parliamentarians ally themselves, mean increased support for the president and his initiatives. Conversely, it could bring the Muluzi-Mutharika power struggle to the floor of Parliament. END COMMENT.