Malawi – nicknamed “the Warm Heart of Africa” for the kindness of its people – is one of the poorest countries in the world. A small, landlocked country in southeastern Africa, over half of its almost 20 million people live under the poverty line. Ongoing food crises, often the result of extensive drought or devastating floods, have plagued the country for decades. Heavily reliant on foreign aid, in 2014, Malawi ranked as the world’s fifth most aid-dependent country or territory.
After Malawi won its independence from Britain in 1964, it eventually transitioned from a one-party dictatorship to a democratic system in the early 1990s. Democracy now thrives. This year 74% of the population turned out for presidential elections on May 21st.
By a slim margin voters returned incumbent President Peter Mutharika, head of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), for another five year term. Mutharika and the DPP took 38% of the vote, former evangelist Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) came in second with 35%, and Saulos Chilima (UTM) took 20%.
Yet, despite robust voter turnout, Malawi’s democratic elections are facing challenges by two of its losing parties.