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Malawi gets go ahead to recount votes

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iol news pic may20 Malawi Elections

AP

Background from left to right, Chief Justice Richard Banda, his wife, Malawi President Joyce Banda, and younger sister Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, join a voting queue to cast their votes in the eastern district of Zomba, Malawi. Picture: Raphael Tenthani

Blantyre, Malawi - A court injunction obtained by one of Malawi's main opposition parties on Monday authorized the electoral commission to recount the votes in last week's poll to make sure the result was not influenced by fraud.

The injunction followed a string of others after Tuesday's general election.

Incumbent President Joyce Banda initially sought an injunction to nullify the elections over allegations of fraud and stop the vote count.

She called for fresh elections within 90 days in which she would no longer contest the presidency.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the Law Society of Malawi and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) challenged the decision in court and obtained injunctions saying the vote count should continue.

The political parties agreed that the initial vote count would be followed by a recount to make sure the elections were transparent.

But the DPP - which is leading in the poll - on Sunday obtained a new court injunction saying the electoral commission should announce the results after the initial vote count without a need for a recount.

However, the DPP agreed to allow the recount in areas where the number of those who voted exceeded the number of registered voters.

In the latest injunction, obtained by the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the Lilongwe High Court reversed the injunction it had granted to the DPP and said the election results should be announced only after a full recount.

“The MEC can now do a recount. We have also asked the court to determine that our stay order should be permanent so that no other injunctions should be obtained to distract the MEC from doing its work,” MCP Secretary General Gustav Kaliwo said.

At least 30 per cent of the votes have been counted so far, with initial projections showing Banda - leader of the People's Party (PP) - trailing behind the two other candidates.

The frontrunner was the DPP's Peter Mutharika, brother of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, followed by Lazarus Chakwera, an evangelical pastor from the MCP.

Banda rose from the vice presidency to the presidency after Bingu wa Mutharika's sudden death in 2012.

She won applause from the West for her austerity policies, but her rule was later tainted by a massive corruption scandal, which led to donors slashing aid that had made up 40 per cent of Malawi's budget.

Sapa-dpa


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