The opposition leader in Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, on Wednesday warned the media about the attempts to rig the country’s election, claiming he was leading as the votes were slowly being counted.
About one-third of the polling centres have been counted since Tuesday and early results show that President Peter Mutharika and Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) are equal with 37%.
Chairwoman of the Malawi Electoral Commission Jane Anash told the media that the slow counting of votes was explained by the transmission problems.
According to Chakwera, his party is conducting its own count, even though the local observers declared the election largely free and fair.
“So far the message is clear, we know that we have a tremendous lead,” he told a news conference at his house in Blantyre. “No one is going to rig this election. Justice is going to prevail.”
Malawi has around 6.8 million potential voters but an official turn-out has not been published yet. Since Mutharika came in office 2014, he has faced accusations of corruption and cronyism.
“Those in power, I know you, you’re trying to tamper with elections, I warn you, you will soon face the long arm of the law,” Chakwera stated.
Chakwera, who recently secured the high-profile support of former president Joyce Banda, campaigned on an anti-graft platform and was credited with reviving the MCP.
Nandin Patel, a political science lecturer at the Catholic University in Malawi, told the media that the close election count could be very contentious.
“Malawi has a winner takes all system and in 2014 Mutharika won with just 36 percent of the vote,” she said.
Patel further added that Mutharika came to power in the aid-dependent country vowing to tackle corruption after the Cashgate scandal had erupted a year earlier.
“He revealed massive looting from state coffers and since then his government has been dogged by several high-profile cases of corruption and nepotism.”
In a statement, the National Initiative for Civic Education said that despite isolated incidents of scuffles and disputes, the election day was largely peaceful and foreign observer missions were expected to give their verdicts on Thursday.