BLANTYRE (Reuters) – Malawi opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has what appears to be an unassailable lead in a presidential election re-run with 60% of the vote, according to a tally by state broadcaster MBC released on Thursday.
The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation said the tally was from all but three of 28 districts counted, and that it gave President Peter Mutharika 39% of votes. The opposition alliance claimed victory for Chakwera earlier on Thursday.
The electoral commission has yet to announce official results of the re-run of the 2019 election, which the courts cancelled owing to fraud.
The vote on Tuesday was regarded as a test of the ability of African courts to fight ballot fraud not uncommon on the continent, since Malawi’s judiciary infuriated President Peter Mutharika in February by quashing the result of the 2019 vote.
“With all votes…tallied, it is now clear that Malawians have resoundingly given (the opposition)…alliance the mandate to govern this country for the next five years,” a statement from Chakwera’s Tonse Alliance said.
“Malawians have at last reclaimed their destiny.”
A spokesman for Mutharika’s alliance did not respond to a request for comment.
At a news conference on Thursday, Electoral Commission chairman Chifundo Kachale urged Malawians to wait for the official result, which was taking time to collate because ballots had to be transported back to head office from locations across the lakeside southern African nation.
A win for Chakwera would be a dramatic reversal of last year’s discredited poll that handed the presidency back to the incumbent, who has been in power since 2014.
(Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Mark Heinrich)