The people of Malawi voted on Tuesday in a re-run of the presidential election, reported Reuters. Some 6.8 million people were eligible to vote in the rerun. As per reports, there was a big voter turnout in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, and Zomba.
Mr. Mutharika, who is seeking a second term, was up against Lazarus Chakwera, the head of the opposition coalition, in Tuesday’s election. A third candidate, Peter Kuwani, was also in the running.
The re-election was announced after the Constitutional Court annulled President Peter Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing evidence of voting fraud including the use of correction fluid on results sheets. It ordered new elections to be held within 150 days of its February ruling.
Mutharika slammed the court’s verdict as a “serious miscarriage of justice” and, along with the electoral commission, filed an appeal. But the Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling, setting the stage for Malawians to return to the polls again.
Counting of ballots has already begun at the 5,000 polling stations, and the National Counting Centre in Blantyre is expected to announce the results soon. The Malawi Election Commission has eight days to announce the official results.
The election was held as Malawi continues to register a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. As of Tuesday, the southern African country had 803 cases with eleven deaths since the first case was confirmed in April.
As a precautionary measure, the Malawi electoral commission also provided hand-washing facilities at each of the polling stations to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
“We are provided with the hand sanitizer, face masks and also we are observing the distance which is required; one meter apart when they [voters] are coming towards administration clerk,” said Honasis Mphepo, the Malawi Electoral Commission’s presiding officer at Goliati polling station.
He said voters were also encouraged to use their own pens for marking the ballots.