In Malawi, a local
think tank, the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), says it doubts assurances
by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) that next week's presidential and
parliamentary elections will be free and fair.
The executive director of IPI, Rafik Hajat, says there have
been problems with the electoral process – for example, the cameras used for
the photographs on voter identity cards.
"As you know thousands of cameras didn't work.
And the challenges facing both the registration of voters and verification of
voters' rolls [has] shown…me that the whole process was mismanaged," he says.
Malawi Electoral Commission spokesperson Fegus Lipenga says the problem was solved
by replacing the faulty cameras. And, he says the registration period was
extended to about three weeks to give room to those who did not register
because of the faulty equipment.
is in progress. A lot of things have already arrived in preparation for the
polls. The civil society is out there educating people on how to vote and all
other information as regard to elections. And also at the Electoral Commission
we are now working on the voter list to make it ready for the poll," she says.
MEC's commissioner, Georgina Chikoko says
everything is now in place to ensure free and fair elections.
The executive director of the Institute for
Policy Interaction says there's been political interference from the electoral commission
and that it ignores the complaints of observers.
appointment of the commissioners has never been ratified by parliament and…the commission
feels beleaguered. It feels like it's in a battle and it has to defend itself,"
spokesperson Patricia Kaliati responds by saying the composition of the
commissioners is legitimate, since it's the mandate of the president to appoint
them and no commissioner is affiliated with a political party.
complain that the state media is favoring the ruling party. The state-owned
media has refused to allot free air time for opposition advertisements because
the opposition-controlled parliament refused to fund them.
electoral commission spokesperson Fegus Lipenga says the board offered to fund
commercials designed by the political parties that would run on the state run
Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Malawi Television. He says the political
parties instead decided to advertise only on private radio stations. So he says
the commission is paying for political parties' campaign messages on private
This year's presidential and parliamentary
elections will be the fourth to be held since 1994 when Malawi embraced
Over the years the stakeholders have been
accusing the electoral commission of supporting the incumbent political party –
an allegation it vehemently denies.