Malawi Women March in Support of Election Chief

Protesters during a Jane Ansah solidarity march in Blantyre.

Blantyre — Several thousand Malawian women marched through the commercial capital Blantyre on Wednesday in a show of support for the chairwoman of the country's electoral commission amid a dispute over a presidential ballot.

The southern African country has been roiled by weeks of protest since the May 21 vote, with opposition parties alleging President Peter Mutharika's re-election was tainted by fraud.

Wednesday's demonstration in support of electoral commission chief Jane Ansah was led by the minister of gender, Mary Navicha.

Many marchers, singing and carrying pro-Ansah placards, were transported by buses from outside the city, AFP reporters said.

Organisers denied the event was stage-managed by Mutharika's ruling DPP party.

"Women have shown their disappointment and their anger at the way Jane Ansah has been treated," human rights lawyer Seodi White, one of the march organisers, told AFP.

Mutharika held onto power by narrowly defeating Lazarus Chakwera, of the opposition MCP.

Opposition supporters have held several rallies demanding Ansah's resignation, with police regularly using tear gas to disperse the protesters.

One of Wednesday's marchers, 50-year-old nurse Norah Phiri, said Ansah had been "humiliated and insulted" by the rallies.

Allegations of electoral fraud included that many results sheets were altered using typewriter correction fluid.

The two main opposition parties have challenged the vote outcome in the court.

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