Police have arrested nine roving monitors of UTM Party nationwide for undisclosed reasons and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has expressed surprise with the development.
Darlington Ndasauka, one of the UTM monitors at the National Tally Centre in Blantyre, lodged a complaint with MEC that the party’s monitors were detained nationwide.
In an interview, he said five roving monitors were arrested at Nchalo in Chikwawa District, three in Mulanje District and one at Chinkhoma in Kasungu District.
And in a letter to MEC, Ndasauka expressed dismay with the conduct of the police. He said it was unfortunate for police to allege that the roving monitors were “acting suspiciously”.
He said: “We tried to contact the returning officers from those sites. Some actually tried to reason with the police, but we are not getting any assistance.”
In a separate interview at the main tally centre in Blantyre, chief elections officer Sam Alfandika confirmed receiving several complaints from UTM about the arrest of the monitors, but said MEC was surprised with the arrests.
He said: “Roving monitors are adding credibility TO the electoral process. We are surprised that they are being arrested, but we will investigate the matter.”
Alfandika said the said the UTM monitors were visiting polling centres with ultraviolet light gadgets checking the authenticity of the ballot papers.
“They were just confirming the ballot papers. The ballot papers have 14 security features that become visible when exposed to a ultraviolet light,” he said.
Alfandika said so far no suspicious ballot paper has been found.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the police has received complaints from UTM, but said the arrests would not affect the electoral process because UTM has monitors on the ground.
Yesterday, MEC received several complaints ranging from university students being barred from voting and rigging allegations from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to accusations of some candidates giving money to potential voters and rehabilitation of a bridge on polling day.