Former leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera has taken an early lead in the presidential race as official results rolled in on Wednesday, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) said.
MEC commissioner Jane Ansah says Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is leading with 533 217 votes representing 37.56 percent.
President Peter Mutharika has polled 524 247 votes representing 37.01 per cent and in a distant third place is Saulos Chilima, Mutharika’s estranged vice who formed a breakaway party to contest for the top seat. He had garnered 293,978 (20.76%).
The vote results are from the 1.4 million cast votes representing 35.6 per cent from 1784 polling stations out of the 5002 polling centres.
Given that Malawi operates a first past the post system, whoever comes top irrespective of the percentage will be declared winner.
Analysts hold that its early days yet as results are awaited from other parts of the country, only then can firm projections be made as to a likely winner of the presidential race.
Meanwhile, has said political leaders should avoid making inflammatory which can incite violence.
“Political leaders should not utter statements that would leave people in fear,” she said.
This follows Chakwera’s statement earlier as he claimed victory and said he would not accept anything to the contrary.
Ansah stressed the need for parties to desist from announcing unofficial results.
“Political leaders shouldn’t overstep commission’s authority.The mandate to announce results remains solely with MEC. The commission has managed to deliver peaceful and fair elections & is even capable of delivering credible results,” she said.
She also cautioned broadcasters against airing statements from politicians which can cause violence as the voting process is still going on.
Under the electronic tallying system, results are canned and sent to the national tallying centre in Blantyre, using specially designed forms that have several security features. The commission also has auditors who will confirm figures before they are released and displayed on giant screens at the national tally center.
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday, casting their votes to elect a president, members of parliament and local government councillors.
President Peter Mutharika is seeking a second term, and is being challenged by his deputy, Saulos Chilima, and the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, Lazarus Chakwera.