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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid