About 3 000 Malawian opposition supporters marched through the capital Lilongwe Tuesday to protest alleged fraud in the 21 May elections that returned Peter Mutharika as president. Backers of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) allege their leader Lazarus Chakwera was robbed of victory in the election, which an official count showed he lost by just 159 000 votes.

The protest, which was peaceful, was the first street demonstration since the results were announced more than a week ago.

Chakwera has rejected the outcome as “daylight robbery” and launched a court battle to have the result annulled on the grounds of fraud.

The protestors marched from MCP headquarters about 2km to Capital Hill, the seat of the Malawi government, chanting anti-Mutharika slogans. The march, dubbed “For Malawi to rise, Mutharika must fall” attracted protesters dressed in the MCP’s red and green colours, bringing central Lilongwe to a standstill. MCP spokesperson, Eisenhower Mkaka, told AFP “this is people that have been aggrieved.”

“The constitution does provide for peaceful demonstration and this is exactly what is happening.”

Last week, police used teargas to disperse Chakwera supporters gathered outside the party headquarters. The MCP has said that election results sheets were covered in correction fluid and some from polling stations far apart bore the same handwriting.

“Whether you voted for us or not for us, I am your president. I am the president of all Malawians,” Mutharika said after his inauguration Friday.

EU deputy chief election observer Mark Stephens told AFP his team “acknowledge there were a lot of mistakes that were made in the tallying.”

“Our observers have been trying to collect as much detailed information as possible,” he said.

Mutharika, of the Democratic Progressive Party, was declared the victor with 38.57% of the vote, pipping Chakwera on 35.41%. Third-placed presidential contender Saulos Chilima has also alleged “serious anomalies” in the poll.

The DPP also won the parliamentary vote held on the same day.