Malawi’s President Joyce Banda on Thursday called for an immediate manual audit of this week’s election results, alleging serious irregularities after the electoral commission reported its vote tallying system had collapsed.
“It has come to my attention that there (are) some serious irregularities in the counting and announcement of results in some parts of the country,” she told reporters.
Banda said unofficial partial results showed that some candidates were winning with numbers of votes that exceeded the total numbers registered at the polling centres.
Discarded and tampered ballots had also been discovered, said Banda who is facing her first electoral test since she succeeded her late processor Bingu wa Mutharika two years ago.
She also alleged the communication devices of some polling monitors were deliberately jammed, “thereby limiting the monitors’ ability to effectively carry out their duties.”
“In light of these concerns and concerns emerging from other stakeholders which includes other political parties, I call upon the Malawi Electoral Commission to carry out an immediate manual audit of the whole process,” she said.
Election officials announced earlier that the vote tallying electronic system had collapsed, forcing them to resort to fax and email, and delaying the release of results.
The system “is refusing to take the information from the ground where our data clerks are stationed to send the results,” chief elections officer Willie Kalonga told AFP after the vote.
Banda, 64, began her term two years ago as a darling of the West, feted as one of Africa’s rare women leaders, but her government has since been ensnared in a $30 million corruption scandal dubbed “Cashgate”.
Analysts placed her as the favourite despite the scandal and despite competition from her hardline predecessor’s brother, Peter Mutharika.
The 74-year-old Mutharika was allowed to run in the election despite facing a trial for treason.
He is accused of trying to stage a constitutional coup by concealing his brother’s death in office, and flying his body around Africa as he plotted ways of preventing Banda — then vice president — from being sworn in.