Malawi starts counting votes in rerun of presidential poll

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Polls closed across Malawi on Tuesday evening after millions voted for the country’s president in a rerun of the 2019 election that was nullified by the courts because of vote tampering.

Counting of ballots has begun at the 5,000 polling stations and the results will be announced from the National Tally Center in Blantyre. The Malawi Election Commission has eight days to announce the officials results.

Incumbent President Peter Mutharika, 79, is running against Lazarus Chakwera, 65, leader of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party.

The Constitutional Court on February 3 struck down Mutharika’s victory in the May, 2019 election, citing evidence of voting fraud, including thousands of ballots that appeared to have been altered using typing correction fluid. The ruling was upheld by the Malawi Supreme Court.

Some 6.8 million Malawians were eligible to cast ballots.

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition, a local organisation, led demonstrations across the country to call for fairness in the electoral process. The group’s national coordinator Luke Tembo told AP that the voting on Tuesday is what the group had been campaigning for.

“This has now given people a second chance to exercise their rights. Now we have been calling on people to come out in their large numbers to vote to determine the future of this country,” said Tembo. “We believe this time around we are going to get things right and get a free, fair and credible election.”

A Malawian casts vote in Blantyre, Malawi. PHOTO: AP