Malawi voters cast their ballots after delays

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IOL pic may21 MALAWI-ELECTIONS-_0520_11 Reuters Malawian President Joyce Banda votes in her home district of Malemia. She has declared this week's chaotic election null and void. Picture: Eldson Chagara

Blantyre -

Malawians were voting on Wednesday in tightly contested general elections even after polling stations had officially closed the day before and votes were already being counted.

Tuesday's elections pitted incumbent president Joyce Banda against three strong challengers.

Polling stations in eight constituencies in the largest cities, Lilongwe and Blantyre, had opened so late on Tuesday that they were still kept open for some hours on Wednesday.

It was the first time in the southern African country that voting in general elections was extended to the following day.

The delays on Tuesday sparked violence at some polling stations. Protesters, who had waited for hours to vote, blocked roads and burned tyres in Blantyre.

Banda was facing Peter Mutharika, brother of former president Bingu wa Mutharika; evangelical minister Lazarus Chakwera; and Atupele Muluzi, son of former president Bakili Muluzi.

Nearly 1 300 people also contested the 194 seats in parliament.

Banda's rule has been tainted by a massive corruption scandal known as Cashgate, which led to donors slashing aid that had made up 40 percent of Malawi's budget.

Definitive election results were not expected until Friday. - Sapa-dpa

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