News / Africa

    Malawians Cast Votes, Triggering Unrest

    A woman receives a mark on her finger with indelible ink prior to vote for Malawi's Tripartite elections at Malemia School Polling center, the home village of the incumbent president, May 20, 2014.
    A woman receives a mark on her finger with indelible ink prior to vote for Malawi's Tripartite elections at Malemia School Polling center, the home village of the incumbent president, May 20, 2014.
    Lameck Masina
    Unrest has marred elections in Malawi on Tuesday, where incumbent leader Joyce Banda is facing stiff challenges from 11 candidates in the first democratic test of her rule.

    Soldiers were deployed in the commercial capital, Blantyre, on Tuesday after angry voters set fires at some polling stations and blocked roads. Protesters alleged fraud, after some polling stations opened late. Some protesters also complained that names had been left off election ballots.

    Police eventually contained the situation.

    Incumbent is front-runner

    In the absence of reliable opinion polls, most analysts rank Banda, leader of the People's Party, as the favored candidate because of her popularity in rural areas where she has been rolling out development projects and farm subsidies.

    After casting her ballot in the southern village of Malemia, Banda urged all sides to keep calm.

    “I'm thankful that the campaign period was peaceful and am urging all Malawians to vote peacefully today without any incident or loss of life,” she told reporters.

    She rose to power two years ago when her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, suddenly died in office. At the time, she was serving as vice president.

    Her main challengers include Mutharika's brother, Peter, former cleric Lazarus Chakwera, and Atupele Muluzi, who is the son of former Malawian president Bakili Muluzi. All three of their parties have previously won the presidency.

    Large turnout

    Despite the anomalies, there has been a huge turnout, especially in rural areas.

    Before the voting got underway, election commission chairman Justice Maxon Mbendera told VOA the polling would be credible and transparent, despite concerns about a new voters' list.

    "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," said Mbendera. "This is an election, a mother of all elections in Malawi."

    According to Gilbert Museliwa, who voted at the Goliati polling center in the southern district of Thyolo, expectations are high regardless of which candidate wins.

    “I am very excited to have cast the ballot for the leaders I want to lead me. I have also voted for a ward council who has a clear vision of development," said Museliwa. "My expectation is that the new president should be able to do what people want and that is the person I have voted for and that is my expectations of the new leader.”

    Another voter, Gertrude Lungu, said the voting was peaceful, but complained about the slow voting process.

    “The slowness is generally because of lack of materials, because of the eight streams that they were supposed to have at this center only two are operating, meaning that only two people are voting at a time against the expected eight people,” she said.

    A presiding officer at the center, Charles Tembo, said the problem has been communicated to the Thyolo District commissioner, who assured them it would be sorted out as soon as possible.

    Malawi Electoral Commission officials told VOA that they are hoping to quickly rectify all the polling station problems.  

    By law, election results are to be released within seven days after voting.

    'Cashgate' weighs

    Banda initially enjoyed goodwill from the many who resented Mutharika's autocratic style, allowing her to win the backing of foreign donors, along with the International Monetary Fund, when she pushed through austerity measures, including a sharp devaluation of the kwacha designed to stabilize the farming-dependent economy.

    Urban voters, however, have criticized Banda's response as ponderous. Her relations with some donors have soured.

    More recently, however, her administration's reputation has been hit by a $15 million graft scandal; dubbed "Cashgate," if followed the discovery of large amounts of money in the car of a senior government official.

    More than 80 people have been arrested and a former cabinet minister has been dismissed and put on trial for money laundering and attempted murder.

    Tuesday's ballot also includes elections for parliamentarians and local government officials.

    Some information for this report comes from Reuters.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: tiö from: south africa
    May 22, 2014 8:17 AM
    why cant people just accept defeat rather than try 2 prove something that is not true

    by: tripple malawi from: lilongwe
    May 20, 2014 10:32 PM
    I wound love DR Chakwera to win for good politics

    by: Tarsitius Chilekwa from: lusaka
    May 20, 2014 4:37 PM
    I would love joyce to win and finish her programmes. Government must not be changeed like undrrwears

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora