The Southern Africa Development Community has sent an election observer team to Madagascar for the December 3rd presidential election. But opinions are divided about the significance of the team and what effect it may have on the credibility of the election.
Denis Kadima is executive director of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa. I reached him in the capital city of Antananarivo for an update the current political situation. He says the country appears set for the polls. “All indications point to a peaceful pool. Campaigns have been largely peaceful and politicians have conducted themselves well in the run-up to this election. We are hopeful that come Election Day, things will go as planned”.
Kadima says some problems have however observed that if not addressed could be a source of legal challenge to the outcome of the election. “ The date and timing of the election has been controversial with many candidates boycotting the election and the requirement that each candidate produce their own ballot papers to be approved by relevant government office is also raising some concerns”
Kadima says while the observer team may not be able to guarantee a credible poll, it may point out some problems that could be improved upon to ensure that future polls are free, fair and credible.
“People generally assume that the presence of observers would ensure the credibility of the process. But in most cases all we can do is to observe potential and real problems, bring it up to the attention of the authorities to improves the process. This country has some peculiar problems and hopefully their membership of SADC would help turn things around.