Counting of ballots began at the 5,000 polling stations, and the results will be announced from the National Counting Centre in Blantyre. The Malawi Election Commission has eight days to announce the official results. Incumbent President Peter Mutharika, 79, is running against Lazarus Chakwera, 65, leader of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party.
The Tipp-Ex scandal
The Constitutional Court on 3 February struck down Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing evidence of voting fraud, including thousands of ballots that appeared to have been altered using typing correction fluid also known by its brand name of Tippex. The Malawi Supreme Court upheld the ruling.
Some 6.8 million Malawians were eligible to cast ballots. The Human Rights Defenders Coalition, a local organisation, led demonstrations across the country to call for fairness in the electoral process. The group’s national coordinator, Luke Tembo, told AP that the voting Tuesday is what the group had been campaigning for.
“This has now given people a second chance to exercise their rights. Now we have been calling on people to come out in their large numbers to vote to determine the future of this country,” said Tembo. “We believe this time around we are going to get things right and get a free, fair and credible election.”
Malawi Electoral Commission assures of fairness
The day before the vote there was a spate of clashes in the capital, Lilongwe, and the lakeshore town of Nkhotakota sparked by rumours of vote-rigging. Order was restored by soldiers of the Malawi Defence Force who have been deployed across the country. The Electoral Commission Chairperson Chifundo Kachale assured all voters that the polling process would be fair.
Before the voting started the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on “all political actors and stakeholders to renew their commitment to credible and peaceful elections while observing all preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19,” according to a statement issued by spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Several local and international organisations are observing the new elections, in an effort to confirm that they are free and fair. The European Union, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, several diplomatic missions, and the Commonwealth also observed the elections, the Malawi Electoral Commission’s spokesman Sangwani Mwafulirwa said. The US and British embassies announced that they sent out small observer missions as a supplement to thousands of domestic election observers and political party monitors. (Source -AP)