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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid