Malawi’s election results are being delayed after vote forgery claims

Voters queue to cast their ballots in Malawi in Lilongwe.
Voters queue to cast their ballots in Malawi in Lilongwe.
Image: Reuters/Eldson Chagara
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Malawi’s electoral commission says it will not release the presidential election results because of a court injunction obtained by the main opposition party, the Malawi Congress Party.

The party’s leader Lazarus Chakwera wants the electoral body to fix irregularities around the votes in some parts of the country where there have been huge anomalies and electoral disputes. Hence, the party wants a recount of ballot papers in the presence of representatives of all political parties.

Despite the voting process appearing to be well-managed, peaceful and transparent, the handling of the results has been chaotic. There have been complaints of forgery of result sheets.

On Thursday a Malawi Electoral Commission official was arrested for allegedly tampering with the result sheets from the constituency’s tally centers which were under him. The official, allegedly, erased some results from the result sheets from the polling centers with correction fluid and inserted other figures. Such issues have prompted the opposition party to seek help from the court.

“I wish to inform you that the Commission has been served with an injunction restraining us from proceeding with announcement of presidential results. The Commission will wait for this process to be concluded before announcing the results,” said Jane Ansah the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission

Meanwhile, the vice president Saulos Chilima of the United Transformation Movement, who is running against his boss president Peter Mutharika, has called for a fresh election due to the serious electoral irregularities.

“I am calling upon the electoral commission for the nullification of the aggregated vote under the Tripartite Elections of 21 May, 2019. The country must re-group and prepare for credible elections to the satisfaction of the people of Malawi. We should not allow fraudsters to continue holding this country at ransom,” said Chilima in a statement

With 75% of the polling centers counted on Thursday, president Peter Mutharika had 40.49% support, while main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera had 35.44%. Vice president Saulos Chilima,was third with 18.25%.

Malawians who casted their votes at more than 5,000 polling stations across the country on May 21 are hoping for a transformed Malawi which overcomes corruption and lack of job opportunities. Nearly 7 million people registered to vote and 54% of them were between the ages of 18 and 34 with up to 56% of registered voters being female.

As Mutharika seeks for a re-election, his term has been dominated by food shortages, power outages, and low security in the killings of people living with albinism.

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