Freedom House urges Malawi to audit votes

The U.S.-based rights watchdog Freedom House has urged Malawi to carry out “unimpeded and properly monitored” recount of the ballots of last week’s election marred with damaging irregularities.

Unofficial count showed that Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party was in the lead with 36% of the vote.

Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party had polled second with 28%, while President Joyce Banda was in third place with 20% of the vote.

Reporting from 'ground zero'  Haru Mutasa of Al Jazeera in Malawi where elections credibility has been seriously damaged
Reporting from ‘ground zero’ Haru Mutasa of Al Jazeera in Malawi where elections credibility has been seriously damaged

However, nine days following election, results have not yet been announced due to alleged irregularities with the voting process and a series of court challenges.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is investigating allegations of fraud and begun a manual recount of all votes.

As some political parties challenge the MEC’s decision to delay announcement of the results pending this recount, Freedom House said in a statement that a recount is the best solution as of now.

“These elections can reflect the will of the Malawian people if the Electoral Commission is allowed to carry out an unimpeded and properly monitored recount,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs at Freedom House.

”At this stage, President Joyce Banda and the leaders of the opposition parties should support the Electoral Commission’s efforts to deliver results that are credible and verified within the shortest time possible.

“All parties should also respect the independence of the judiciary and act responsibly during the recount, as perceived manipulation of this process could shatter the peace that Malawi has enjoyed for so long.”

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

President Banda has attempted to declare the vote “null and void”, saying it was marred by “serious irregularities”, and court orders and injunctions have flown back and forth.

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