Malawi police fire tear gas, rubber bullets at election protesters

2014-05-30 14:05

Lilongwe, Malawi – Malawian police today fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse dozens of protesters demanding a recount of a May 20 presidential vote, ahead of an expected court decision on whether to release the result or order a recount.

Police said protesters barricaded roads with burning tyres and smashed shop windows in the Mangochi district, in the southern part of the impoverished African country.

“Shops have been smashed, government offices closed and tyres are still burning, but we have put the situation under

control at the moment,” police officer Elijah Kachikuwo told Reuters.

Police said the protesters were members of the People’s Party of President Joyce Banda and Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party, both of which have called for a recount.

The high court is due to decide today whether the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) should announce the result, which Banda’s opponent is likely to have won, or if it should recount ballots, a process that could take two months.

Four days after the election, the MEC said a count of 30% of the votes cast showed that the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), headed by Peter Mutharika, brother of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika, was in the lead with 42% of the vote.

Banda, southern Africa’s first female head of state, followed with 23%. The MEC has finished counting but has not announced the result. Local media reports suggest Mutharika would comfortably win if there is no recount.

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