Judge Muhara grants DPP injunction against recount: MEC insists on vote verification

Malawi opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – the forerunner in last week’s poll – has obtained a court injunction restraining the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) from embarking on a ballot re-count over fraud concerns.

DPP through lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale sought a court order on Sunday which was granted by newly appointed Judge Lloyd Muhara – formerly Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) boss.

Kaphale said Justice Muhara’s order means the vote count to continue and then declare official results which can be challenged in court later.

Justice Muhara: First task at the bench, grants injunction to DPP
Justice Muhara: First task at the bench, grants injunction to DPP

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.

At least 30% of the votes have been counted so far, showing that Banda – leader of the People’s Party (PP) – was trailing behind two other candidates.

The front-runner was the DPP’s Peter Mutharika, brother of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, followed by Lazarus Chakwera, an evangelical pastor from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

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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