Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera has said they will extend voting hours in some areas that opened late for polling and even where people be still be on qeue to cast their ballots.
The official time to end for voting is 6PM.
Mbendera told a news briefing on Tuesday that those who will still be queuing when polls close would be allowed to vote.
“We are monitoring the situation closely to allow every voter the opportunity to vote,” he said. “I must also remind voters that if they are in line to vote at 6pm – they will be allowed to vote. If there are locations that open very late the MEC may extend polling hours in some areas.”
He admitted the electoral body has faced “challenges” but said “it is important to allow MEC officials, vehicles and facilities to be allowed to conduct their work unobstructed.”
Some 7.5 million people were registered to vote in the election, in which President Joyce Banda 64, was vice president and came to power in 2013 following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika is facing strong challenge from three of the 12 candidates.
Mutharika’s brother Peter Mutharika, 74, is one of the front-runners now challenging Banda, whose administration has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
A younger candidate, Atupele Muluzi, 35, the son of Malawi’s first multiparty president Bakili Muluzi, appears to be attracting support from first-time voters.
And a newcomer to politics, retired pastor Lazarus Chakwera, also is getting enthusiastic support. The 59-year-old minister for the Assemblies of God church is running as someone free from fraud and corruption.
Counting is expected to commence immediately polling closes and esults are expected to start trickling in on Wednesday.