Court rules in MCP favour: Vacates DPP injunction

The High Court in Lilongwe has ruled favourably for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) after it lodged a challenge against an injunction obtained by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – the forerunner in last week’s poll –restraining the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) from embarking on a ballot re-count over fraud concerns.

Over a dozen of lawyers stormed Lilongwe High Court to challenge Justice Lloyd Muhara’s decision to grant DPP a stay order, forcing MEC to announce election results within 8 days.

In its determination on Monday, the High Court vacated the earlier injunction by DPP.

Gustav Kaliwo:  Injunction removed
Gustav Kaliwo: Injunction removed

“Judge Ken Manda has ordered that MEC as an independent body should be allowed to do its job,” Kaliwo said.

“That means all the injunctions obtained against MEC are vacated and if other quarters are not happy with judgment, they can apply to the court for a judicial review.”

“This means MEC hands are no longer tied on recount,” said MCP secretary general Gustav Kaliwo, a lawyer himself.

Kaliwo said the “removal of injunction” obtained by DPP will ensure the process of ballot recount continues.

“The Electoral Commission should be free to carry on the electoral process with the vote recount as agreed by stakeholders,” he said.

The initial count after Tuesday’s vote was to be followed by a recount to make sure the result was not influenced by fraud, as complained by electoral stakeholders including President Joyce Banda, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi.

But MEC said the parties – except DPP- have agreed to audit the ballots following “serious irregularities.”

The Commission said it will work independently as the law stipulates and deliver a credible results and not be stampeded to announce results that will be from fraudulent votes.

MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera reported that “in the course of vote tallying, there are cases being discovered where the total number of votes cast is more than the total registered voters for the centre.”

The recount does not mean the electoral commission will abandon the current vote counting exercise.

“This will be pursued to the end, but results will not be announced until the vote recount outcome is known and compared with” the original count, Mbendera said.

Malawi’s election was chaotic, with people still voting two days after election day because of delays in the distribution of voting material. In the commercial capital Blantyre, angry voters set a polling station alight. Banda alleged the vote had been marred by rigging, multiple voting and computer hacking.

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