Malawi’s Electoral Commission (MEC) has received partial results from over 15 districts in the country, with several centres already submitting their final results to the Constituency Tallying Centres. A statement from the commission early Wednesday morning revealed that the votes that have been tallied are being verified by auditors, before any announcements are made.
Despite the introduction of an electronic system for reporting vote results, the commission will only officially recognize the result from the hand counted papers received from the various polling stations. Though exact figures could not be given, the commission and the African Union Observer mission expressed that voter turnout seemed high in nearly all districts in the country.
The districts where partial results have been submitted include Karonga, Dedza, Balaka, Blantyre, Zomba, Chitipa, Chikhwawa, Lilongwe, Mwanza, Mzimba, Neno, Nkhata Bay, Nsanje, Rumphi, Salima and Thyolo. “There is no shortcut to results counting and we urge the Malawi nation to exercise patience as the results are being counted. The Commission has already sent adequate vehicles to retrieve the teams from the centres to the constituency tally centres,” read the statement.
Millions turned up to vote in the 5002 polling centres on Tuesday, May 21. Voting kicked off at exactly 6 am in most polling stations. “60% of polling centres opened on time, while about 40% opened slightly late,” according to the Head of the AU Observer Mission, and former Ghanaian leader John Mahama.
During a press conference on Tuesday evening, MEC Chairperson Justice Dr. Jane Ansah revealed that only one polling station was extremely delayed and voting kicked off at 10:25 am due to the unavailability of the list of registered voters.
She also revealed that they were looking for an intern, whom they said was responsible for switching the name of Malawi’s Vice President and Presidential contender Saulos Chilima, from the centre where he had registered to another polling station about 300kms away. “He will face the full force of the law when we catch up with him,” she announced.
Dr. Ansah lauded the fact that the entire voting process took place without much incident and said the vote counting was taking place under tight security, to deter any tampering and to ensure the process remained violence free. “I should warn everyone out there who wishes to perpetrate violence or disturb smooth counting of votes to refrain. They will be arrested as police and the Malawi Defence Force are on high alert,” she said in a statement.
The Malawi elections were intended to pick the country’s next crop of leaders, mainly the President, members of Parliament and local councilors. The main contenders for the top seat include incumbent President Peter Mutharika (DPP), Vice President Saulos Chilima of UTM, and main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera (MCP).
Local media have been releasing unofficial results, which pit DDP in an early lead in the southern and eastern regions, MCP in the central region, and UTM in the north. Official results are expected to be released starting Friday.