Malawi’s opposition rejects election results, takes matter to court

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By Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
LILONGWE - Lazarus Chakwera, leader of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the main opposition
party in the country, who won 35 percent of the votes in the May 21
presidential elections, has rejected the results calling them daylight
robbery and a crime against democracy and Malawians' decency as a
people.
Chakwera, who has since filed for the nullification of the results, said
at a press conference that there had been serious irregularities in
the counting of the votes.
 "If we do not fight for the Malawians, they may never know what
actually happened. It’s an electoral system in which officers of the electoral commission
can use Tipp-Ex [correction fluid] on results sheets from all over the
country... and yet there are no consequences,” he said.
Chakwera, who was speaking during his first interview since opponent
Peter Mutharika was announced the winner of the presidential race,
questioned why Mutharika was rushed to be sworn-in just a day after
the results were declared arguing that this suggested that the
authorities were keen to avoid further disputes about the poll.
But Mutharika has rejected criticism of the election result,
saying international observers had given the vote a clean bill of
health.
Mutharika, speaking at his swearing-in for a second term in office
following his slim win in the controversial election, said it was now
time to heal the country following the elections which had been
highly divisive.
Thousands of Mutharika's supporters who attended the short but
colourful ceremony sang and danced as he slowly made his way to the
podium.
Many of those who thronged the Kamuzu Stadium in the city of Blantyre
dressed in the blue and white colours of the ruling Democratic
Progressive Party ululated and shouted in jubilation as the president
took the oath of office.
Mutharika, who was declared winner, of the presidential race with 38.5%
of the vote, asked the opposition to accept the results, insisting
there could only be one winner.
 But supporters of Chakwera have been marching through the
streets of the capital, Lilongwe, protesting against alleged
irregularities in the 21 May presidential elections.
They even thronged the Capital Hill which houses government offices
demanding that the civil servants should stop working because they were
working for a government that had been fraudulently elected.
Protesters chanted slogans claiming President Mutharika had
stolen the election. Police did not stop them.
The demonstration came after two opposition leaders filed separate
cases in court challenging the win of President Mutharika.
Chakwera’s MCP obtained an injunction last week stopping Malawi
Electoral Commission from announcing results of the elections. The
party also demanded a recount of the votes.
But announcing the winner on Monday last week, the electoral commission
insisted that it did not favour any political party saying results of
the polls were decided by voters.
Meanwhile, High Court Judge Mkandawire has since
ordered that both Chakwera and UTM presidental candidate Saulos Chilima should have their cases consolidated.
Chilima, who came third in the presidential race with a party that was only 10 months old, has also since filed for the annulment of the results at the same High Court in the Malawi capital city, Lilongwe.
Making the ruling, Mkandawire said the cases the two leaders had
presented to the courts against the Malawi Electoral Commission’s May 21 polls presidential results arguing that the elections were not credible due to numerous irregularities were similar in
nature.
Judge Mkandawire observed that the cases cannot be separately against
MEC but be consolidated into one and that the matter be referred to
the Constitutional Court.

 

 

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