Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) hinted last night that the much-anticipated declaration of the winner of the June 23 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election could either be made today or tomorrow.
In his second and last briefing for the day at 9.30pm at the national tally centre at the College of Medicine Sports Complex in Blantyre yesterday, MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale said the process to announce official results was taking time due to technical hiccups and the electoral body’s desire to first authenticate every result from all the 9 271 polling stations.
He said: “It is quite an involving process, but now the system is up and running and we are getting more and more efficient.
“We are mindful of the time in which we are to announce these results. I think we should be able to conclude the process between 36 and 48 hours.”
Today is the third of the eight days the commission is required by law to receive and determine results of the election.
Election results started trickling in at the national tally centre by Wednesday lunch hour. However, as of 10pm yesterday, MEC had declared results from six of the country’s 28 districts. The districts are Likoma, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Phalombe and Mulanje.
Yesterday, MEC received another complaint from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) relating to its obligation to examine votes classified as null and void.
This is a MEC function under Section 97 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) and DPP complained that the electoral body was conducting the exercise without consulting competing party representatives.
But Kachale said the commission dismissed the complaint on the basis that the function was the mandate of MEC because classification of null and void votes was done at polling stations where all electoral stakeholders, including party representatives, witnessed.
Earlier yesterday, MEC referred to police another complaint from DPP regarding alleged incidents in Lilongwe where the party’s monitors were allegedly harassed, intimidated and abducted.
Briefing journalists, Kachale said: “The commission has looked into the matters and found that they border on criminal conduct. Therefore, the complaint has been referred to the Malawi Police Service for further investigation.”
Responding to a question on sentiments posted by DPP-UDF alliance running mate Atupele Muluzi on his official Facebook page that he would not accept results as they were illegitimate, the MEC chairperson said the electoral body had nothing to say on that.
Kachale said people with complaints have the freedom to channel the same through courts, stressing that in the annulled May 21 2019 presidential election aggrieved parties sought redress through the court.
During the briefing, Deputy Commissioner of Police Noel Kayira gave an update on the arrests Malawi Police Service had made prior to the voting, on polling day and after the voting.
He said 38 incidents were jointly registered by police and Malawi Defence Force and that 46 individuals are in police custody.
He said the suspects were arrested prior to the polling day, on the day of voting and in the past two days after voting was concluded.
Kayira said the offences included intimidation of monitors, torching of a vehicle, being found with other voters’ particulars to vote for them, unlawful detention and dishing out handouts on voting day.
On his part, Malawi Defence Force director of military operations Brigadier General Blaise Saenda confirmed incidents where ex-military officers were arrested in Nkhotakota and Salima, but said the security organ was still probing the matter.
He explained the matter was being dealt with like any other disciplinary issue relating to a military officer.
“But we are looking into the bigger picture to see to it that we have a credible election,” Saenda said.
Security continues to be tight at the national tally centre, with the number of political party representatives, especially from the Tonse Alliance, which includes Malawi Congress Party and UTM Party, growing by day.