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Malawians Await Court Ruling on Controversial Election

Malawian presidential candidate Peter Mutharika, brother of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, gestures during a press conference at his residence in Blantyre, Malawi, May 22, 2014.
The Malawi High Court is expected to rule Friday whether the results of the May 20th presidential election should be announced or a recount should be held.

With about a third of the votes counted, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Peter Mutharika is leading with 42 percent of the unofficial tally.

But Malawi Congress Party presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera, who is in second place, has gone to court along with third place candidate President Joyce Banda to demand a recount.

Meanwhile, Malawi’s Electoral Commission Chair Maxon Mbendera said late Thursday that despite some irregularities, over 95 percent of voting was free, fair, transparent and credible.

He said he will announce the final results Friday barring any court intervention. Malawi laws dictate that results be announced within 8 days after the polling.

DPP Publicity Secretary Nicholas Dausi says his party wants the results announced and its candidate Peter Mutharika declared winner.

“All along the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has maintained that regardless of few irregularities by and large the election has been free, fair and credible. That’s why we have asked the Malawi Electoral Commission to announce the results as their constitutional and statutory requirement," he said.

Dausi said there should not be a recount because most of the ballots have already been tampered with.

“From the beginning we thought we cannot do the recount because, as we have been saying, the sanctity and security of ballot boxes and ballot papers was not secured. Most of the ballot papers and ballot boxes have been found strewed across the country. In view of these irregularities, we thought a recount could not reflect the reality on the ground,” Dausi said.

He said the DPP expects Malawi Electoral Commission to announce the final results as required by law.

“According to the law and according to the statutory requirement, I think the Malawi Electoral Commission is bounded by the law for them to announce the results. So we expect the Malawi Electoral Commission to announce the final results of the presidential election,” Dausi said.

Dausi said the DPP believes its candidate, Peter Mutharika, will be declared the victor because unofficial results had leading all candidates.

“In view of the unofficial results, we believe that our presidential candidate, Professor Peter Mutharika has been leading since the counting of the ballots began. So, I don’t think any party can overtake that. We expect the commission to do the official announcement,” Dausi said.

Reports in some local Malawian newspapers say the DPP has already set up an inauguration committee.
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