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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs