Malawi oppn files suit against vote ‘robbery’

Blantyre: Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera on Friday rejected the result of last week’s presidential election, saying he had launched a court battle to have the vote annulled on the grounds of fraud.
Chakwera lost the election by just 159,000 votes to incumbent Peter Mutharika, who was hurriedly sworn into office the day after the delayed result was issued on Monday.
“I reject the Malawi Electoral Commission’s fraudulent presidential results,” Chakwera said in a statement.
He said he was filing a high court petition to have the election declared void. “What we have witnessed in front of our very eyes is not an election, but daylight robbery, a crime against our decency as a people and our democracy as a nation,” he said.
Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) last weekend obtained a brief court injunction to halt the release of the results, claiming “very glaring irregularities”.
The party said that results sheets were covered in correction fluid and some sheets from polling stations far apart bore the same handwriting.
But the injunction was lifted on Monday and Mutharika was declared the winner hours later. Mutharika was sworn in as president at a sports stadium in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre on Tuesday — while on Friday a separate inauguration ceremony was held at the same venue.
“Whether you voted for us or not for us. I am your President. I am the President of all Malawians,” Mutharika said after being inaugurated.
He alleged his DPP supporters had suffered a campaign of “violence and political intimidation” since the election.
Chakwera said dozens of civil servants, soldiers and police who were suspected of voting for opposition MCP had been immediately re-deployed to remote rural areas, and that dozens of youths arrested.
Earlier this week, police used teargas to disperse Chakwera supporters who gathered outside the MCP headquarters in Lilongwe, the capital. Before the vote count was completed, EU observers described the May 21 election as “well-managed, inclusive, transparent and competitive”. — AFP