Malawi voters disregarding physical distancing rules

Malawians have been queuing to vote in Tuesday's presidential rerun with a blithe disregard for physical distancing as ordered by…

Malawians have been queuing to vote in Tuesday’s presidential rerun with a blithe disregard for physical distancing as ordered by the country’s electoral commission, local media claimed.Since voting began at 7 am local time on Tuesday several photos and videos have surfaced, appearing to show voters too close to each other at polling stations.

Two metres is the mandated distance to be observed between voters as demanded by the electoral commission.

Electoral commission officials appear keen to apply health safety standards including water tanks positioned near polling stations where voters can wash their hands.

Not all polling stations appear to have water tanks.

Malawians have been voting on Tuesday in a closely watched presidential election rerun after allegations of widespread irregularities forced the nullification of a previous poll held in May 2019.

For the second time in 13 months, Malawians trickled to polling stations dotted across the country to choose a new president.

This was after the Constitutional Court in February nullified President Peter Mutharika’s re-election over rigging allegations.

Mutharika had emerged victorious in the 2019 poll, defeating a strong field of six other presidential candidates.

He narrowly defeated his main rival Lazarus Chakera by winning 38.57  percent of votes cast during the presidential elections held  concurrently with polls for members of the National Assembly and local  government councillors.

Chakwera won 35.42 percent of the votes while Saulos Chilima was a distant third, with 20.24 percent of the ballots cast.

On Tuesday, the main contest was between Mutharika and Chakwera, a  65-year-old pastor turned politician who is the candidate for the newly  formed Tonse Alliance that includes several smaller parties.

His running mate is Chilima, Mutharika’s former deputy.