Malawi’s electoral authorities said on Sunday that they will re-open ballot boxes after finding evidence of irregularities, as the country faced a constitutional crisis over the disputed poll. “In the course of vote tallying, there are cases being discovered where the total number of votes cast is more than the total registered voters for the centre,” said Malawi Electoral Commission chairman Maxon Mbendera. “It has been agreed with political parties that this can be resolved by opening the ballot boxes and doing a physical audit,” he said. The recount could start this week after an implementation plan was thrashed out with political parties on Sunday. On Saturday, Malawian President Joyce Banda declared the election “null and void”, claiming there were “serious irregularities” with the poll. She issued a decree that vote counting stop and called for fresh elections in 90 days.
But just hours after her announcement, Malawi’s high court issued an injunction preventing the president from annulling the poll.
Ms Banda alleged that people had voted multiple times, ballots had been tampered with, presiding officers had been arrested, and the computerised voter counting system had collapsed, but her main rival, Peter Mutharika, called the decision to annul the election “illegal”.
On Sunday, electoral officials said that in four districts vote numbers did not appear to match the voting register.
A heavy police presence continued in the commercial capital of Blantyre on Sunday, with scores of riot police on alert at the counting centre. Everybody entering the building was checked by police for an identity document authorised by the Malawi Electoral Commission. Party leaders appealed for calm.