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Malawi Electoral Chief Promises Credible Elections

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - An elderly woman casts her vote in Malawi's general election in Machinga district, north of the commercial capital, Blantyre.

FILE - An elderly woman casts her vote in Malawi's general election in Machinga district, north of the commercial capital, Blantyre.

The chairman of Malawi’s Electoral Commission (MEC) says the electoral body is fully prepared to administer the country’s first tripartite elections scheduled for Tuesday.

Over 7 million prospective Malawian voters registered to vote in the presidential, legislative and local elections.

Justice Maxon Mbendera says ballot papers and other materials needed for the election have been distributed nationwide in readiness for the elections. He vowed the vote will be transparent, and credible that would meet international standards.

“We are ready to administer these elections,” said Mbendera. “I will tell you that even without any sense of equivocation. I will vouch for these elections. They are transparent, they would be free, they will certainly be fair.”

Mbendera called on Malawians to come out in large numbers to choose their leaders in an election he promises would be free and fair adding that the vote would be better than previously held elections in the Southern African country.

According to Malawi’s electoral law, there would be no run-off.

“We used what we call the first past the post,” said Mbendera. “So, it is rally the one who has a bigger aggregation of votes that takes the presidency. It doesn’t matter what sort of percentage it is.”

The MEC compiled a new voters list that would be used for the elections. But some opposition and civil society groups expressed concern about inaccuracies in the list, which they said could undermine the credibility of the vote. Mbendera disagreed. He urged Malawians to repose confidence in the electoral body’s ability to organize a transparent vote.

“The voters register is ready, and it is better than the one we used in 2009. We have a voter population now on the register of 7,470, 806 voters,” said Mbendera. “They should have confidence that we are doing all we can to bring about an election that is credible, that is free and fair. And my plea to them is to come out in their large numbers to select and choose the leaders of their choice. This is a mother of all elections in Malawi.”

Mbendera says the MEC is working with all political parties to address their concerns in the run up to the vote. He also says the electoral body has implemented measures to resolve electoral disputes.

“We have a complaint handling unit at the headquarters, but in the district we have what we call the Multiparty Liaison Committees. They are supposed to deal with any issues of complaints that arise at that level. If they are not able to decide, then they will refer them to us,” said Mbendera.

“If it is a complaint relating to the poll itself, the conduct of the poll, every individual, party agent or candidate or political party is entitled to register their complaints to the presiding officer at the polling center,” said Mbendera. “If they are not satisfied then they refer them to the commission at its headquarters… all other matters that are still in dispute can be referred to the High Court.”

The MEC invited both local and international poll observers to monitor the general election.

Some of the poll observers include the African Union, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the SADC Parliamentary Forum, according to Mbendera.

“The diplomatic missions that are in Malawi are also invited to observe these elections,” he said.
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