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Malawians Protest Election Results

FILE - An elderly woman casts her vote in Malawi's general election in Machinga district, north of the commercial capital, Blantyre.
Political parties in Malawi are protesting the government's decision to publicize preliminary election results while voting is still underway.

Presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi says he has asked the election commission to stop broadcasters from announcing results from Tuesday's polling because it could influence those casting ballots on Wednesday.

Ken Msonda, a spokesman for the ruling party, said announcing results while others are voting is like announcing winners of a marathon while athletes are still in the race.

Tuesday's polling was marred by long delays and ballot problems, and led demonstrators to block roads and set fire to some polling stations in the commercial hub of Blantyre.

As a result, the government allowed a second day of voting at some stations in Blantyre and the capital, Lilongwe.

Election commission chairman Maxon Mbendera told reporters the radio announcements of results would not change anything because the number of people voting on Wednesday was small.

President Joyce Banda is facing stiff challenges in her bid to win a new term. She came to power after President Bingu wa Mutharika died in 2012.

Her 11 challengers include the late president's brother Peter Mutharika, former cleric Lazarus Chakwere as well as Muluzi, the son of former President Bakili Muluzi.

All three of the candidates' parties have previously won the presidency.

The ballot also includes elections for parliament and local government officials.