Vote counting continues in Malawi amid court injunctions
LILONGWE, May (Xinhua) -- The Malawi Electoral Commission ( MEC) resumed vote counting after the electoral body announced Saturday evening that due to grave anomalies, vote counting was going to be halted and that manual counting be employed.
The Saturday announcement followed a number of complaints filed to MEC by three of the four major competing parties who had asked the Commission to halt the vote counting using data from the centers and that manual counting should be conducted instead.
After MEC insisted that the figures the Commission was receiving from the centers across the country were valid and authentic, the Commission made a U-turn Saturday evening and stopped the counting citing inconsistence of figures as one of the 'grave anomalies' that had marred the election.
It was discovered for instance that in one constituency over 38, 000 voters registered but the figure that voted in the May elections in the same constituency were over 180,000.
But on Sunday, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, Peter Mutharika, who was leading by 42 percent when MEC announced its preliminary report of 30 percent vote count, obtained a court injunction from Malawi High Court in Lilongwe to order MEC to continue with the vote counting and announce the winner afterwards.
On the same Sunday in Blantyre where the National Tally Center is, one of the presidential candidates, Friday Jumbe of New Labor Party, also obtained a court injunction from the High Court for a similar cause that MEC should continue with the counting of the votes and to announce the winner.
The development saw MEC resuming the vote count but on Monday morning, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who claim that their candidate Lazarus Chakwera is apparently leading, obtained another court injunction from the High Court in Lilongwe to vacate the two Sunday injunctions and to let MEC carry out manual count of the votes.
Meanwhile, as at Monday afternoon, MEC continued with the count at the main Tally Center in Blantyre despite the Monday injunction from MCP.
The May 20 elections were marred with several irregularities among them insufficient voting materials, delays in commencement of the voting process, and number of voters in particular districts failing to tally with the registered voters in the particular districts.
MCP and the People's Party (PP) had from Thursday asked the country's electoral body to respond to the complaints of alleged rigging that the parties had lodged.
On Saturday, President Joyce Banda, whom MEC's preliminary vote count placed on third position, asked the Commission to halt the whole process and that there should be a fresh election within 90 days, a directive that many legal experts in the country laughed off.