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Malawi president alleges vote fraud

Thursday - 5/22/2014, 1:09pm  ET

RAPHAEL TENTHANI
Associated Press

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) -- Malawi's president on Thursday demanded a vote recount after alleging the national election in the southern African nation this week was marred by rigging, though the election commission dismissed her allegation.

Irregularities included a failure to inspect voter registers at some polling centers, efforts to prevent election monitoring and the hacking of the electronic counting system, President Joyce Banda said.

The president faced a field of 12 candidates in Tuesday's election, which was troubled by scattered unrest. Banda was vice president and came to power in 2012 following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. Mutharika's brother, Peter, was a prominent challenger to Banda.

Malawi is poor, politically fractious and heavily dependent on foreign aid. Banda initially drew praise for vowing to combat graft when she came to office, but her government has been tarnished by corruption scandals.

Maxon Mbendera, a top judge and head of Malawi's election commission, said the vote was fair and that the panel will have a "clear picture" of the outcome in the next few days as counting proceeds. Voting was still underway Thursday at several polling centers in Blantyre and the capital, Lilongwe, because violence had disrupted their operations on the election day.

"The postponed vote was just one percent of the entire vote. These elections are extremely free and fair," Mbendera said.

Besides the presidency, legislative and local posts were also at stake in the vote.

A deputy Cabinet minister who lost his parliamentary seat in the elections committed suicide early Thursday, police and family members said.

Godfrey Kamanya, the deputy local government minister, shot himself after locking himself in a bedroom in his house, according to authorities.


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