Voice of America (Washington, DC)

27 May 2014

Malawi Party 'Strongly' Opposes Vote Recount

Malawi's main opposition Democratic People's Party (DPP) says it is strongly against the recount of all ballots from the May 20 election saying the country's High Court has the sole responsibility to order an election recount.

Both local and international poll observers including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon described Malawi's presidential, legislative and local elections as credible and transparent before the electoral commission's decision to order a recount of the vote citing voter irregularities in parts of the country.

DPP spokesman Nicholas Dausi says the decision by Justice Maxon Mbendera, chairman of the electoral body, to order a vote recount was illegal.

"It is extremely illegal for the Malawi Electoral Commission to order for the recount of the ballot boxes," said Dausi. "They don't have the power. That power of a recount can only be done after the Malawi Electoral commission has announced the final results and they give seven days for any complainant to do that, and that power lies with the Malawi High Court."

Some analysts say the DPP is opposing the recount because it was leading in the poll before the electoral body's recount.

Opponents say the DPP appears to have engaged in voter irregularities, which they contend is the rationale behind the party's strong opposition to the poll recount. But, Dausi rejected accusations that the DPP rigged the vote.

He says the recount of the entire election could lead to ongoing electoral disputes. Dausi says the DPP plans to legally challenge the vote recount effort.

"We are intending to go back to the court to make sure that that directive does not arise," said Dausi.

Some legal scholars in Malawi contend that the electoral commission has the mandate to use all powers under the constitution to administer a credible election, which they say includes recounting the vote without authorization from the High Court -- if the electoral body determines there were voter irregularities that could undermine the credibility of the poll.

But, Dausi says there was no need for a vote recount after international poll observers described the election as free, fair and transparent.

"Everybody has said that the election has been fairly conducted. Now, if there is any grievances, what our laws for presidential and parliamentary elections state that if there is any irregularity, those grievances have to be addressed after seven days," said Dausi.

Outgoing President Joyce Banda's ruling People's Party and all other opposition political parties except the DPP demanded a recount of the entire vote citing voter irregularities.

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