With 35.67 percent of the votes counted in the presidential race, results Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) presented last night put Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lazarus Chakwera slightly ahead of incumbent President Peter Mutharika.
Presenting the results at the national tally centre in Blantyre in her last briefing of the day at about 8pm, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah said Chakwera had 533 217 votes.
That tally represents 37.65 percent of the votes counted so far while Mutharika, the torchbearer for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stood at 524 247 or 37.01 percent.
She said the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima, presidential candidate for UTM Party, had 293 978, representing 20.76 percent of the votes counted.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said the results constitute 1 436 400 votes cast at 1 784 of the 5 002 polling centres.
In the May 21 Tripartite Elections, MEC registered 6 859 570 voters. From the results presented, Ansah said 19 985 votes were declared null and void.
The other candidates in the presidential race faired as follows: Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) 48 766 votes or 3.44 percent, John Chisi of Umodzi Party 5 786 votes (0.41 percent), independent Revelend Hadwick Kaliya 4 308 (0.30 percent) and Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development 6 113 (0.43 percent).
Ansah’s announcement of the partial results came barely hours after Chakwera stated during an address monitored on Zodiak Broadcasting Station radio that signs of his victory “are evident”.
He, thus, appealed to MEC to expedite its operations and address the factors delaying the process of transmitting and announcing results to ease public fears of tampering with the results.
Said Chakwera: “To those evil people in power still trying to tamper with the results, my message is very simple. I know of your activities and if you do not desist, you will soon face the long arm of the law. I know of your failed attempts to rig these elections. I know of plans to stir public panic.”
He said Malawians have been denied electoral justice for long.
Said Chakwera: “No one is going to steal this election. Enough is enough.”
In his statement issued prior to Ansah’s address, Chilima asked Malawians to maintain peace and calm as MEC is tabulating results of the elections.
He said: “Cognisant of the fact that the power to conduct, tabulate and announce results of the elections is vested in MEC, the nation [should] avoid putting undue pressure on the electoral body. MEC should be allowed to execute its role, at this particular point in time, with diligence.”
Chilima said political leaders should adhere to the peace agreements they signed to ensure that the electoral process is conducted in peace.
In an interview, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said MEC was within the legal period of processing election results.
He said: “The law requires MEC to announce results within a period of eight days. We have no problem with that.”
In her remarks, Ansah warned political parties against self-declarations of victory, saying it is only the electoral body that is mandated to declare winners.
She said: “The law requires MEC to announce official results within a period of eight days, let us be patient and wait.”
In an earlier interview in Blantyre yesterday, MCP director of youth Richard Chimwendo-Banda said his party was anxious because the results tabulated at its tally centre pointed to its victory.
He said: “We want to compare the results with what we have. Our figures show that our candidate [Chakwera] won the election.”