Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika was declared the winner of Malawi's disputed presidential election on Friday after defeating President Joyce Banda. Mutharika, the brother of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, took 36.4 percent of the votes cast against Banda's 20.2 percent, the electoral commission said. Electoral commission chief Maxon Mbendera declared Mutharika "president-elect" after last week's vote, which Banda said was marred by "serious irregularities" and "null and void". The results showed that Banda was beaten into third place by Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who garnered 27.8 percent of the vote.
US lawmakers urged France to break its contract to sell two warships to Russia and instead sell or lease them to NATO, which said Friday it was up to Paris to decide. Three congressmen led by Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to the transatlantic alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressing concern about the construction and sale to the Russian navy of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers. "It is critical that NATO countries no longer provide powerful weapons to enhance Russia's ability to intimidate or even invade its neighbors," the lawmakers wrote Thursday, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine.
Peter Mutharika, who was on Friday declared the winner of Malawi's disputed presidential election, is set to take the reins of the impoverished southern African country under the shadow of a treason charge. The 74-year-old brother of former president Bingu wa Mutharika is accused of attempting to conceal his brother's death in office two years ago in an attempt to prevent Joyce Banda -- then vice-president -- from assuming power. Banda prevailed and took office as decreed by the constitution, booting the former foreign minister out of the administration, but Mutharika beat her soundly in the May 20 election. The trial is still pending, but analysts say it is likely the case will be set aside as Malawi's presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution as long as they are in office.
President Barack Obama's under-fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday, paying the price for an expanding scandal over failures in health care for America's retired warriors. "Secretary Shinseki offered his resignation. The president said that an initial review by Shinseki, 71, had found that delays and other management failures in veterans' health care were not confined to one facility in Arizona, but were systemic and nationwide.
The United States on Friday flatly rejected a plan laid out by Thailand's junta chief to delay elections for more than a year to allow time for political reforms. "We know that they have announced a, quote, 'road map toward democracy,' but with scant details included," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. She insisted that Washington believed the best path forward was "to set a timeline for early elections and to facilitate an inclusive and transparent electoral process." Only after this could elections be held, he said.
The leader of South Sudan's rebels, former vice president Riek Machar, said Friday he was "committed to peace" and ready to resume peace talks next week in Ethiopia. Speaking after talks in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Machar also described the nearly six-month-old conflict in the world's youngest nation as "senseless war". And I want to assure you that we are serious about bringing peace to South Sudan," he said in a brief statement after the talks. "I want to assure you that we are serious in ending this senseless killing in South Sudan.
US President Barack Obama will meet Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko in Poland next week, during a European tour dedicated to shoring up regional security amid the worst East-West crisis in years. The meeting will come less than two weeks after the pro-European Poroshenko, a chocolate tycoon, was elected in the shadow of a showdown between Washington and Moscow over the fate of Ukraine that has brought relations to their lowest level since the Cold War. The meeting will take place in Warsaw, where Obama will pay a highly symbolic visit to attend celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Poland's first post-communist elections.
Hillary Clinton has given her most detailed account yet of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, but said she will not join the "political slugfest" over the tragedy. In excerpts from her forthcoming memoir "Hard Choices," Clinton offered a blunt rebuttal to Republican lawmakers who have repeatedly accused her of bungling the response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the US mission and of misleading the American public. "Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country," President Barack Obama's first secretary of state said in perhaps the book's most anticipated chapter, "Benghazi: Under Attack."
Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Malawi's high court Friday refused to delay the release of results of the country's disputed presidential elections for a recount. "The law is clear, there is no extension," said high court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda. Riot police patrolled key areas of the commercial capital Blantyre as the court decision was announced after earlier demonstrations turned violent, leaving one protester dead. President Joyce Banda -- shown in early results last week to be running third -- had claimed the vote was marred by "serious irregularities" and declared it "null and void".
A Canadian was convicted Friday of trying to join Somalia's Shebab militants, marking the first time Ottawa has brought charges of attempting to participate in terrorist activity. Mohamed Hersi, 28, was arrested at Toronto's airport in March 2011 as he was about to leave for Cairo. Prosecutors, however, said Hersi was in fact traveling to his birth country of Somalia to join the Shebab. Hersi was also convicted of counseling another person to participate in a terrorist activity, after he provided advice to an undercover policeman in the case.