Blantyre, Malawi: Malawian President Joyce Banda finally conceded defeat on Saturday when she congratulated her arch-rival Peter Mutharika for winning the country’s presidential election, whose result she had initially challenged.

Banda congratulated Mutharika for his “victory in a closely contested election” and said she was “leaving office a happy person,” according to a statement.

In 2012 Banda became Malawi`s first female president after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, the elder brother of Peter Mutharika.

On Friday the electoral commission announced that Mutharika had taken 36.4 percent of the votes cast against Banda who had 20.2percent..

The results were announced minutes after the high court refused a last-ditch attempt to block their release and allow time for a recount.

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”.

Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) came second and Banda third according to results released.

Jessie Kabwila, Party spokeswoman said the MCP, which had made the bid for a recount, would challenge the results in court.

Banda has urged Malawi to fully support Mutharika.

She said she wanted “to urge all Malawians to support the newly elected President Professor Mutharika and his Government as they take on this foundation of progress and endeavour to develop Malawi even further.”

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