The European Union Elections Observation Mission (EU EOM) has called for transparency in the May 21 Tripartite Elections for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to retain the confidence of electoral stakeholders beyond the polls.
EOM chief observer Miroslav Poche made the call at a media conference the EU organised in Lilongwe yesterday where he met MEC and government officials, among other stakeholders, ahead of the elections.
In his address, among others, Poche observed that MEC has addressed 80 percent of recommendations the EU made in 2014.
He said: “We are encouraged that some of the recommendations raised during past elections have been addressed, such as improved voter register, although some remain to be dealt with. We also hope that the results process will be transparent and timely.”
Poche, however, commended MEC for producing a clean voter register which was one of the recommendations the mission made following complaints political parties raised on irregularities.
Besides recommending the enactment of electoral statute to allow the country move from the First-Past-the-Post system to 50+1, the team in 2014 also recommended an introduction of a clear and enforceable ban on the use of State resources for campaigning purposes into the electoral legislation.
On the issue of the voter register, MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika stated in an earlier interview with The Nation that the register, which he touted as the best since the country ventured into multiparty democracy, will help the electoral body to administer results in a transparent, credible and fair manner since it depicts the number of people who will vote at a particular centre.
Recently, MEC officials reiterated that there will be no vote rigging since results will first be announced at centre level before being sent to the tally centre in Blantyre for consolidation.
The current strategy for handling election outcomes prescribes that results should be indicated both in figures and words to avoid manipulation, a move which will be contrary to the way they were handled in the past since they were indicated only in figures.
So far, eight EU election analysts, 28 long and 32 short-term observers have been deployed in the country ahead of the polls.
Diplomats of the EU member States and partner countries will join them on the polling day.
According to Poche, observers will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process that will include the legal framework regarding election handling, performance of election administration and women’s participation and media coverage, among others.
Other stakeholders such as the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) and Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) indicated that they will be committed to ensuring that the May elections are credible, fair and transparent.
Elections results were an issue in the 2014 polls following complaints from political parties such as the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which protested the outcome which saw its president Lazarus Chakwera coming second to Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika, who led with 36 percent of the total vote.