Presidential candidates in the May 21 Tripartite Elections cast votes with an appeal for Malawians to maintain peace as results trickle in.
Incumbent President Peter Mutharika, presidential candidate for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), voted at Goliati Primary School in Thyolo East Constituency home area and saluted registered voters for turning out in large numbers to vote.
He said: “To vote for leaders of one’s choice is very important in a democratic country. It means people are voting for the future of this country.”
Vice-President Saulos Chilima, the UTM Party presidential hopeful, appealed to political leaders to continue preaching peace as the country awaits election results.
Speaking to journalists after casting his ballot at St. Thomas Anglican Commercial School in Lilongwe’s Area 18, he said every candidate who signed the Public Affairs Committee peace declaration should uphold the promise not to incite violence.
“When the results are announced, life must go on. There can only be one winner and everybody must accept it,” he said.
Chilima had to endure an over 40-minute wait to cast his vote after polling staff said his name was missing in the voters’ roll at the centre he had registered. It later transpired that his name was transferred to Chizumulu Island in Likoma District without his knowledge.
It took the intervention of MEC head office for Chilima to cast his vote.
But the Vice-President remained calm in the whole scene, telling journalists such things happen during voting.
MEC chairperson Jane Ansah said the electoral body had identified a temporary registration clerk as the culprit who transferred the Vice-President.
During his briefing, Chilima also explained why he did not contest as a member of Parliament (MP) as other presidential candidates did.
He said: “I have been a Vice-President of this country [from 2014]. I don’t think one should move from being a Vice-President to a member of Parliament. There are other things to do in this life. I didn’t think it was necessary to do that, I left that to someone else.”
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera, who served as leader of opposition in Parliament for the past five years, cast his vote amid ululation and cheers from his buoyant supporters at Malembo Primary School in his home village in Lilongwe Rural.
Addressing journalists, the pastor-turned-politician said he was confident the elections will be free and fair.
“We mounted a formidable campaign unlike any other party and any other year and I am very positive about the results… At the end of the day, we must trust our democratic systems and believe the commission will do the right thing.”
United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Atupele Muluzi voted at Nainunje Primary School in Machinga North East Constituency. He commended electoral stakeholders for making the electoral process transparent, accountable and credible.
Besides the four, there are three other presidential hopefuls—John Chisi of Umodzi Party, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development and Revelend Kaliya, an independent.
Former presidents Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda also cast their votes with calls for peace.
Bakili Muluzi also cast his vote at Nainunje Primary School in his Kapoloma Village in Machinga while Banda voted at Malemia Primary School in Zomba Malosa Constituency.
(Additional reporting by Staff Writers SUZGO KHUNGA, GOLDEN MATONGA, LUCKY MKANDAWIRE and JONATHAN PASUNGWI and MEC Stringer LEAH MALIMBASA)