Polling stations have closed in Malawi’s historic court-ordered fresh presidential election following campaigning marred by clashes between rival supporters.
It is expected to be a tight race between President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) alliance with Atupele Muluzi as running mate and the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led by Lazarus Chakwera who has paired UTM Party president and the country’s estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
Chakwera and Mutharika as front-runners were expressing confidence of winning the presidency.
For the first time, a presidential candidate must win 50-percent-plus-one system following the court’s interpretation of majority in Section 80(2) of the Constitution. Previously, winners were declared President based on simple majority or first-past-the-post to avoid a run-off.
“The voting is now officially over,” said Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa after 6pm.
He said the Commission will hold a press briefing at the National Tally Centre in Blantyre from 8pm to give an update on close of polling and results counting.
Charles Kajoloweka, executive director for the Youth and Society Organization, a local nonprofit organization, said he found it “inspiring” that the reconstituted commission’s leaders have promised better election management.
He cited “the transparency they are demonstrating,” saying it should lead to credible elections.
Long queues and a peaceful atmosphere characterized most polling stations in the country except in some places where allegations of electoral malpractices were made.