The United States of America (USA) and the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) have called for calm, as the country anxiously awaits announcement of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) may have heightened the tension itself, as if failed to announce results for 95 percent of the total centres last evening, resulting to more speculation among the electorate.
While many have known winners in the Parliamentary and Local Government polls, the country is still in the dark on the Presidency, with mainly the Democratic Progressive Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in a tight contest.
More worrying is the fact that both camps, the DPP led by Peter Mutharika and MCP of Lazarus Chakwera are speaking of victory, which may lead to incidences of violence if not treated with speed.
As the country waits on the possibility of announcement of results today, USA Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer has urged peace among the candidates and Malawians in general.
Palmer said she has faith and trust in the Justice Jane Ansah-led Malawi Electoral Commission in handling the election.
Said Palmer: “We have a lot of faith in MEC. Give it time to announce results and investigate issues raised. I hope that all parties will let MEC do its job, accept the results and advise their supporters to do the same.
“Let leaders of parties tell their followers to remain calm. MEC will handle this properly and announce the results that reflect the will of Malawian people.”
On his part, ECM Secretary General, Father Henry Saindi urged people to avoid speculations as the hour of truth approaches.
“Let us give MEC time to process the results, we need to avoid speculations. MEC has received complaints and let them consolidate that and announce results that reflect the will of Malawians.
“MEC has a very huge responsibility, I hope that they will remain objective, do their work responsibly and that will only happen if they work without bias. Politicians must avoid coming out to declare themselves winners. Much as they have their own tally centres which may give them victory, it is only MEC that can give us official results, so let’s remain calm,” he urged.
At lunch yesterday, MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah announced that they had received results from 3,792 centres out of the 5,002.
This was 75.81 percent of the total polling centres. The total number of ballot casts is 3,601,538. A total of 3,548,848 are valid votes while 52,690 votes are null and void.
Making an announcement of the presidential results at midday yesterday, Ansah said Mutharika was leading with 1 436 877 votes representing 40.49 percent.
The results, from 75.81 percent or 3 792 of the 5 002 polling stations, also put Chakwera on second position with 1 257 853 votes, representing 35.44 percent with UTM Party presidential candidate Saulos Chilima trailing third with 651 124 votes, representing 18.35 percent.
United Democratic Front candidate Atupele Muluzi was a distant fourth with 161 499 votes or 4.55 percent of the votes.
Prior to making the announcement, Ansah said all political parties present at the main Tally Centre in Blantyre had results for the presidential, parliamentary and Local Government elections.
“Our expectation is that they will also crosscheck with their monitors and come back to the commission if there is any disparity,” she said.
Ansah said the commission had also dispatched a team from the head office to investigate allegations bordering on fraud and other malpractices involving tampering with electoral results in Lilongwe, Phalombe, Mulanje, Thyolo, Blantyre, Chikwawa and Nsanje.
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.
There were no opinion polls during the campaign for this year’s election.
However, a survey by the Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) released last November showed that DPP, MCP and UTM were the most popular political parties in the country in that order.
The Ipor survey, dated August 2018 and conducted between August and September when UTM was barely two months old, sought to assess the political environment in Malawi 10 months ahead of Tuesday’s elections and give an understanding of the political and economic environment of the country.
While DPP and MCP at the time dismissed UTM’s rating as a third force and popular in the Northern Region and trailing MCP in the Central Region, the pattern of results in the election reflect what the survey established.