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Lazarus Chakwera rejects elections results

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By Macdonald Thom:

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has said he rejects results of last week’s presidential elections.

On Monday, the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) declared President Peter Mutharika winner of the polls.

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The commission said Mutharika got 1,940,709 votes, representing 38.57 percent of votes cast, while Chakwera got 1,781,740 votes, representing 35.41 percent.

Former vice-president Saulos Chilima came third after getting 1,018,369 votes, translating into 20.24 percent of votes counted.

At a press conference in Lilongwe Friday, the MCP leader said his party is currently filing a petition to the High Court, contesting results of the elections.

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He said what was conducted was not an election but daylight robbery.

“We have come to a moment in our history when we must make a choice. Either we sit back as our country is ruled by thieves who have stolen an election as a licence to steal our taxes or we can stand up to stop this mafia State once and for all,” Chakwera said.

He added: “Today, I want to tell you where I stand between these two choices: I, Lazarus Chakwera, reject Mec’s fraudulent presidential results and I join all Malawians in rejecting that Mec’s declaration of Mutharika as the winner represents the will of Malawians who cast their votes. For this reason, in pursuant to Section 114 (1) and (3d) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, and having gathered overwhelming evidence of gross violations of the Act, I have started filing a petition to the High Court of Malawi to nullify Mec’s presidential results and declare the presidential elections of May 21 2019 void.”

Section 114 (1) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act states that “an appeal shall lie to the High Court against a decision of the Commission confirming or rejecting the existence of an irregularity and such appeal

shall be made by way of a petition, supported by affidavits of evidence, which shall clearly specify the declaration the High Court is being requested to make by order.”

Chakwera said, within 48 hours of voting, it became obvious that the tabulation of votes was being manipulated.

He said he publicly spoke against that, hoping that Mec would respond by catching the perpetrators and addressing the irregularities.

He said Mec, however, became defensive and combative.

Chakwera said, when they saw that there was no response, the party went to court where it obtained a stay order against the announcement of the presidential results until their complaints were addressed.

But he said it was shocking to see Mec, instead of addressing the concerns, partnering with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawyers to lift the court order.

The MCP leader said he did not want to stop Mutharika’s swearing in as he feared that Malawians would suffer.

“Initially, I had also considered applying to the court to stop the swearing-in ceremony and inauguration. However, I decided that this would not be in the best interest of the country because the protracted absence of a president and Cabinet would disturb the State’s service provision and cause millions of innocent Malawians to suffer,” Chakwera said.

He has since encouraged people who are not happy with what happened to be going to court when hearing of the petition starts.

Should MCP, indeed file the petition, it will be the second electoral case related to last week’s elections for the party to file in court.

On Monday, High Court Judge Charles Mkandawire maintained permission for judicial review the party applied for, on issues relating to the same elections.

This was despite the same court’s decision to vacate an injunction which initially restrained Mec from announcing results of the presidential elections.

MCP wants the court to review the decision by Mec to consider results of presidential elections from areas which it says were marred by tampering of tally sheets.

The party also wants the court to review the electoral body’s decision, through its presiding officers, who refused to give copies of genuine tally sheets to the party’s accredited monitors.

Other issues MCP wants the court to review are Mec’s decision to tabulate results of presidential elections without prior verification with the party’s accredited monitors and the electoral body’s decision to take into account results from constituencies and polling centres where the votes cast are higher than the number of registered voters in the constituency or polling centre.

MCP also wants the court to review Mec’s failure to reverse results after seeing evidence of rigging and Mec’s failure to accord rules of natural justice to the applicants and their agents.

The injunction which Mkandawire initially granted the MCP had restrained Mec from announcing results of the presidential elections until results from Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mangochi, Blantyre, Zomba, Mulanje, Chitipa, Rumphi, Karonga and Nkhata Bay are verified through a transparent recounting of the ballot papers.

This made the electoral body to announce results of only the parliamentary elections later on in the day.

Meanwhile, after Chakwera finished addressing members of the press, he also addressed supporters of MCP who gathered at the headquarters.

Chakwera told the people that MCP is not relenting but taking the matter to court.

He pleaded with the supporters that they should work together for change.

After his address, the supporters marched from MCP headquarters via Kamuzu Central Hospital Road, passing through Old Town, Mchesi, Kawale, Kamuzu Institute for Youth and back to City Centre at their base.

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