Parliamentary Chamber: National Assembly


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  National Assembly

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  17 May 1994

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all seats in Parliament following the introduction of multiparty politics and the adoption of a new Constitution on 16 May 1994. Parliamentary elections had last been held in June 1992.

Background and outcome of elections:

  The parliamentary elections were held simultaneously with those for President of the Republic and were the first multiparty polls to take place in the country since it became independent from Britain in 1964. The publication, in March 1992, of a Roman Catholic pastoral letter critical of the Government had sparked off nation-wide protests and calls for a more democratic system of government. This, coupled with pressure from the donor community, had led President Hastings Kamuzu Banda to promise political reforms. In a constitutional referendum in June 1993, Malawians had voted overwhelmingly for the introduction of a multiparty political system. The existing Constitution had subsequently been amended to allow for the legalisation of opposition parties, and a new Constitution adopted by the outgoing National Assembly on 16 May.

The parliamentary elections were contested by eight political parties and 613 candidates (including 13 independents) while the presidential polls attracted four candidates, including incumbent President Banda.

Campaigning was marred by several reports of intimidation and other electoral improprieties. These violations of the Electoral Code were criticised, notably by the United Nations Electoral Assistance Secretariat (which was providing technical assistance in the preparation of the polls), but were not considered serious enough to affect the outcome in a significant manner.

On polling day, voting took place in a peaceful and enthusiastic atmosphere. Turnout was high (over 80%), with voters waiting for several hours to cast their ballots. The elections were monitored by more than 300 observers from 40 countries, working mainly under the umbrella of the Joint International Observer Group and Commonwealth Observer Group to ensure that as many polling stations as possible were covered. Although several incidents of electoral irregularities were reported, the observers were unanimous in stating that the elections had gone on in a satisfactory manner and that the outcome reflected the wish of the Malawian people.

The final results showed that Malawians had voted mainly along tribal lines, with President Banda and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) winning the most votes in the centre of the country. Mr. Banda's main rival, Mr. Bakili Muzuli, and his United Democratic Front (UDF) won most of their votes in the south, while Mr. Chakufwa Chihana and the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) won massively in the north.

On 19 May, while the votes were still being counted, President Banda conceded defeat to Mr. Bakili Muzuli. The official results released on 20 May showed that Mr. Muluzi had won 47.3% of the votes as against 33.6% and 18.6% for Mr. Banda and Mr. Chihana, respectively.

As for the parliamentary elections, the UDF came away with 84 seats, falling short of an absolute majority. It was followed by the MCP and AFORD. The other contending parties failed to win any seats. The results were nullified in two constituencies (both of them won by the MCP) as a result of electoral irregularities, and fresh elections ordered.

On 21 May, Mr. Muluzi was inaugurated as the new President of Malawi, ending 30 years of one-party rule. On 25 May, he announced a 25-member Cabinet comprising members of the UDF, the Malawi National Democratic Party (MNDP) and the United Front for Multiparty Democracy (UFMP). Three portfolios were left unfilled should the AFORD (with which Mr. Muluzi had been negotiating with a view to forming a government) wish to join the Cabinet.

Round no 1 (17 May 1994): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 3,775,256
Voters 3,021,239 (80.02%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 70,917
Valid votes 2,950,322

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
United Democratic Front (UDF) 1,370,027 46.44
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) 992,768 33.65
Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) 558,875 18.94

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
United Democratic Front (UDF) 85
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) 56
Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) 36

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 167
Women: 10

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Copyright 1994 Inter-Parliamentary Union