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May 18, 2014
Southern Africa Poll Group Expects Peaceful Malawi Election
by Peter Clottey
The deputy leader of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Parliamentary Forum poll observer mission says Malawi’s Electoral Commission has assured the group it has made adequate preparations to administer the country’s first tripartite elections on Tuesday.
The SADC parliamentary forum poll observers comprise parliamentarians from the Southern African region. Situmbeko Musokotwane says prospective Malawian voters have peacefully conducted themselves during the campaign period before the presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
Malawians go to the polls Tuesday to choose their leaders in a poll in which a candidate would be declared winner by garnering a simple aggregate majority of the total votes cast, in accordance with the country’s electoral law.
“Since we came it has been quiet, very peaceful,” said Musokotwane. “The Malawi Electoral Commission they have told us in a briefing last week that they have everything in place. That would have to be tested today and tomorrow because that is when we expect the voting materials to be arriving at the voting stations. But so far, they indicated to us that everything is under control.”
The SADC parliamentary poll observer group has been to both the rural and urban areas as part of its mission to monitor political activities leading up to the Tuesday elections. Musokotwane says members of the group have yet to observe cases of violence.
“I have not even seen anyone pointing finger at another candidate or wagging a finger or taunting them, nothing. So it’s very peaceful,” said Musokotwane. “The campaigning themselves from what we have been seeing are extremely quiet. Of course the rallies are a very jubilant place. There is lots of music, lots of dancing and lots of performances, but it has been extremely peaceful.”
Musokotwane is hopeful there would be no violence during Tuesday’s election based on the way Malawians have conducted themselves during the campaigning period.
He says the poll monitoring group has met with stakeholders including civil society groups, NGOs, diplomatic missions and Malawi’s academia as part of its mission. Musokotwane some of the groups expressed concern about preparations leading up to the vote. He says some of the stakeholders appear to be satisfied with the level of preparations ahead of the vote.
“Of course like everywhere else, now and then there were accusations of wrong doing, which of course were not verified. We encouraged people when they see wrongdoing to report to the Malawi Electoral Commission,” said Musokotwane.
“The civil society groups said they are reasonably comfortable that everything is running well. Again of course they expressed concerns here and there,” said Musokotwane. “Once again we encouraged them to speak to the Malawi Electoral Commission or if they have direct evidence ... to share that with us, which we shall be very happy to pass on to the Malawi Electoral Commission.”
Clottey interview with Situmbeko Musokotwane , SADC Parliament forum