BLANTYRE, MALAWI - Malawi's High Court has ordered the electoral commission not to announce presidential results until ballots from a third of the voting districts have been recounted, after complaints of vote rigging.
Vote tallies from three-quarters of the country's polling stations, released Thursday, found incumbent President Peter Mutharika leading with 40.9% of the vote. Opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had 35.4% of the vote, while Vice President Saulos Chilima was at 18%.
The High Court injunction was obtained by Chakwera amid scores of complaints filed with the commission by various parties over the election process.
Chakwera on Wednesday warned of alleged attempts to rig the vote, saying his party had conducted its own count and this, he claimed, showed he was ahead.
The electoral commission, which has to announce the final results within eight days of voting, on Friday suspended updating the tallies from the May 21 vote in order to resolve the complaints.
Speaking at the press conference Saturday, Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah said although the commission has looked into the complaints, she could not continue announcing the final results.
"I wish to inform you that the commission has been served with an injunction restraining us from proceeding with the results," she said. "The commission will wait for this process to be concluded before announcing the results."
But the commission did announce the parliamentary results for the 192 constituencies: the ruling DPP has gained 62 seats while MCP secured 55 seats.
Eisenhower Mkaka is the secretary general for the MCP.
He told VOA the injunction is aimed at paving the way for the commission to address voting anomalies.
"Which include use of unofficial [ballot] paper; which included "tippexing" [rubbing the results with tippex]; which included no signing of the results by the monitors or one person just writing names on behalf of the monitors and so many more irregularities," Mkaka said.
Candidate Chilima, who heads the United Transformation Movement party, told reporters in the capital Lilongwe Saturday that the Malawi Electoral Commission should nullify the elections because vote counting had been fraudulent all across the country.
"This country must regroup and prepare for a credible election to the satisfaction of people in this country," he said. "We should not allow fraudsters to hold this country at ransom."
Just less than three-quarters of the 6.8 million people who registered to vote actually cast ballots, the commission's Ansah said.