LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi police shot dead a protester on Friday after clashing with dozens of people who barricaded roads with burning tyres demanding a recount of a disputed May 20 presidential election, police officials said.
The impoverished southern African nation was awaiting a court decision later on Friday on whether the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) should the result or order a recount.
Demonstrators in the Mangochi district, in the southern part of Malawi, smashed shop windows and burned tyres along the road, prompting police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.
“In the ensuing fracas one person has been shot dead as police tried to defend themselves after being overpowered by angry protesters,” police officer Elijah Kachikuwo told Reuters.
He also said two police officers were seriously injured.
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 was due to decide on Friday whether the 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 percent 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 percent of the vote.
Banda, southern Africa’s first female head of state, followed with 23 percent. The MEC has finished counting but has not announced the result. Local media reports suggested Mutharika would comfortably win if there were no recount.
Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; Writing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by David Dolan