Malawi to have vote recount: MEC halts electoral process

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it will conduct a re-counting of ballots in presidential election amid claims of fraud.

The commission late on Saturday said it had suspended announcing results and ordered a physical re-count, with commissioner Rev Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri saying the number of ballots counted exceeded the number of voters registered.

The announcement came hours after the commission successfully sought a high court ruling against president Joyce Banda’s declaration that the election was “null and void” and that she was ordering a new poll.

The electoral body said there will be a recount due to massive anomalies.

 Chinkwita Phiri (left) and Mbendera:  Vote recount

Chinkwita Phiri (left) and Mbendera: Vote recount

“There’s need for a physical check by opening the actual ballot boxes,” he said

He warned that the law would take its course if ballots were proven to have been tampered with.

MEC admitted that the number of votes cast in some polling stations exceeded the number of registered voters.

“Through the results management system the Commission has identified 19 polling centres of the 1333 processed so far, where the number of votes cast at a polling center have exceeded the number of registered voters at the polling centres,” said MEC chair Justice Maxon Mbendera.

Mbendera said the results will be investigated through the Commission’s audit systems.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Rev Dr Lazarous Chakwera said there was “rampant illegality” in the ballots being counted.

And President Joyce Banda complained of “rampant irregularities.”

Malawians voted on Tuesday in presidential, parliamentary and local elections that were touted as being among country’s most fiercely contested. But the counting process has been marred by complaints and technical problems, with voting still taking in place in some places days after Tuesday’s vote.

The electoral commission released provisional results late on Friday showing that Ms Banda, who leads the People’s Party, was trailing in second behind her rival, Peter Mutharika.

Based on votes from about a third polling stations, the commission said Mr Mutharika, brother of former President Bingu wa Mutharika, had garnered 42 per cent of the vote, while Ms Banda had 23 per cent.

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