Malawi electoral commission warns against premature results

Written by on May 22, 2019

Malawi’s electoral commission (MEC) chief, Dr. Jane Ansah has called upon stakeholders including political parties to refrain from announcing premature results, pledging that the commission will start official declaration of results as soon as 20% of votes cast have been tallied.

Citizens went to the polls on Tuesday, casting their votes to elect a president, members of parliament and local government councillors.

President Peter Mutharika is seeking a second term, and is being challenged by his deputy, Saulos Chilima, and the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, Lazarus Chakwera.

In this article, we provide updates from the time polls opened on Tuesday morning, to the time official results will be announced, which Ansah said will be within 8 days;

  • Commission warns against premature results
  • Voting closes, counting underway
  • Election anomalies registered
  • Main candidates profiles, and where they cast their votes
  • Electoral commission explains Chilima’s delayed voting
  • Malawi’s election in numbers
  • Chilima’s 40-minute wait to cast his vote
  • Election observers project high voter turnout
  • Malawians share voting experience online
  • Polls open
  • Why this is a high-stakes election

Commission warns against premature results

Malawi’s electoral commission on Wednesday addressed journalists, election observers and political party agents on Wednesday morning, warning against trusting the authenticity of results published on social media.

Commission chief Dr. Jane Ansah reassured the nation that a backup plan had been put in place to deal with any technical hitches that might be encountered, as the country uses the electronic system of tallying results, for the first time.

‘‘The first result was received at midnight but have received only partial results from polling centers. Results have been slow because we’re experiencing some problem in result transmission.’‘

‘‘Security at all centres is very high. Anyone trying to tamper with results transmission I caution them to refrain. Both the police defense force are on high alert,’‘ Dr. Ansah added.

Under the electronic tallying system, results are canned and sent to the national tallying centre in Blantyre, using specially designed forms that have several security features. The commission also has auditors who will confirm figures before they are released and displayed on giant screens at the national tally center.

Polls close, vote counting underway

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“I have a strong feeling that the choice I made will carry the day,” said Tima Nyirongo, 31, a mother of two who voted at a polling station in Blantyre, the southern African country’s commercial capital.

Election anomalies registered

While the voting process has so far been peaceful and relatively smooth, there have been a few anomalies that have been registered and acknowledged by the electoral authorities.

Other than the widely reported incident of vice president Chilima’s delayed voting, there have also been issues of misplaced ballot papers and voter’s registers.

The electoral commission said Chilima’s name was transferred from his official polling station, while voting is reported to have started late at the Kanyenjele polling station after it was supplied with a wrong voter’s register.

There have also been reports of misplaced Mangochi ballot papers being found at Naotcha centre in Blantyre, while Blantyre city centre Matope Ward ballot papers were found within Dziwe Balaka south constituency ballots.

Main contenders cast their votes

President Peter Mutharika is seeking a second and final term, but faces a tough challenge from his deputy, Saulos Chilima and other opposition leaders.

Mutharika’s term has been dominated by food shortages, power outages and ballooning external debt, which have damaged his popularity, as well as concerns about his health.

Mutharika at a glance

  • 78 years old
  • became president in 2014
  • his elder brother Bingu wa Mutharika was also president and died after having a heart attack while in office.
  • is a constitutional expert and former law professor at Washington University
  • previously served as a minister of justice, for education, science and technology, and as minister of foreign affairs

“I am happy that I have voted,” said Mutharika, 78, leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after leaving a polling station in Thyolo town outside Blantyre.

“There are very long lines but I am encouraging everyone to vote because it is the people who will decide.”

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Malawi Government@MalawiGovt

President @APMutharika voting at Goliati, in Thyolo.

Pic credit: Abel Ikiloni

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Saulos Chilima was Mutharika’s running mate in 2014 and became vice president — but he then fell out with his boss.

Chilima at a glance

  • 46 years old
  • quit ruling party last year and set up United Transformation Movement (UTM)
  • previously worked as senior executive at Unilever, Coca-Cola and Airtel

Chilima has run a colourful and energetic youth-targeted campaign on a platform of eradicating poverty, fighting graft and creating employment. But it is uncertain if his new party can make a major impact.

His wife Mary made waves ahead of the election, releasing a slick and much-admired rap video extolling her husband’s candidacy.

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Malawi Government@MalawiGovt

PICS: Vice President & @UTM_inUK Presidential candidate Dr. Saulos Chilima casting his vote earlier today.
Pic credit: Govati Nyirenda

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Former evangelist Lazarus Chakwera, 64, leads Malawi’s oldest party, the Malawi Congress Party, which is the main opposition party and ruled Malawi from 1964 to 1994 under Hastings Banda’s one-party rule.

Chakwera led the party into the 2014 elections, coming second to Mutharika at the polls and he now hopes to go one better.

The Malawi Congress Party has lost all five presidential elections since 1994 but Chakwera has made great efforts to re-energise its base.

Chakwera at a glance

  • 64 years old
  • Chakwera was president of the Malawi Assemblies of God from 1989 to 2013
  • he was endorsed by former president Joyce Banda in March

“We mounted a very formidable campaign unlike any other party and unlike any other year,” Chakwera said after voting in Lilongwe as crowds scrambled to see him.

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