The Elections Observation Consortium has recommended a review of electoral laws to provide linkages between electoral administration and criminal justice for acts of violence that occur in the context of elections.
Consortium chairperson Boniface Chibwana said this at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre yesterday during a presentation of the consortium’s preliminary report on Tuesday’s court-sanctioned fresh presidential election.
The recommendations follow acts of electoral violence that occurred prior to and during the election, mainly bordering on allegations of rigging and barring candidates to campaign in areas considered strongholds for certain political parties.
In his address yesterday, Chibwana—who is Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national coordinator—said an electoral review is important, but stiff codes of conduct must be emphasised on chiefs who also play a critical role in the electoral process.
He said: “This will help in properly sanctioning traditional leaders who create no-go zones for some political parties and candidates.”
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) code of conduct, among other things, prohibits chiefs from campaigning or favouring a particular candidate or political party during elections.
However, Chibwana yesterday said MEC and the Malawi Police Service should collaborate and institute a strategy for anticipating and responding to electoral violence.
During a media briefing earlier yesterday, MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale commended Malawi Defence Force and police for collaborating and maintaining law and order.
He said complaints about violence the electoral body received, specifically on assaults on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) monitors, were transferred to police for being criminal cases.
While further indicating that civil society organisations (CSOs) had constraints in resources to enable effective civic and voter education for the fresh poll, Chibwana also bemoaned hate speech during the campaign period and rekindled tribalism.
Meanwhile, the Joint Civil Society Observer Mission has called on Malawians to exercise patience while MEC is yet to formally announce the winner of the election. So far, indications are that Tonse Alliance torchbearer Lazarus Chakwera is leading.
During yesterday’s press briefing, the platform also congratulated Kachale, MDF and the police for competently managing the election amid fears of logistical hiccups.