LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) – Malawi’s president on Saturday called the historic re-election of the presidential election “the worst in Malawi’s history,” but urged the country to move forward peacefully pending the official results of a vote the opposition is poised to win.
Meanwhile, members of the Presidential Guard were providing security for opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera, who led the results.
President Peter Mutharika in his first public comments since Tuesday’s vote claimed that his party’s election monitors had been beaten and intimidated into staying away from their jobs. “Strangely, the Electoral Commission of Malawi rejected our complaints because our monitors were not there to report irregularities,” he told reporters. He didn’t answer the questions.
A court overturned last year’s original election won by Mutharika, citing widespread irregularities, including the use of correction fluid in ballots. It was only the second time in Africa that a court overturned a presidential election, following a decision on Kenya’s vote in 2017.
Malawi’s state broadcaster said on Thursday night that Chakwera was leading with 59% with all votes counted, while Mutharika had 38%. But the chairman of the electoral commission said that before any final announcement they had to comply with legal requirements to physically verify the results received.
Final results were expected Saturday night or early Sunday.
Months of sometimes deadly unrest followed the announcement of Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 elections, when people in long-peaceful Malawi took to the streets to protest.
The Constitutional Court unanimously ordered the vote to be held again, citing “widespread, systematic and serious” evidence of irregularities and tampering with votes.
Mutharika wants a second and final five-year term.
“It’s just my sincere hope that we will come together to take this country forward rather than take it back,” he said Saturday, urging people to respect the presidency.