Four international observer groups thumb-up Malawians for peaceful vote

Written by  Felix Mponda

Four prominent international observer groups on Thursday thumbed-up Malawians for holding a peaceful vote, the sixth multiparty poll since the end of the one-party era 25 years ago, with the Commonwealth saying the electoral process so far will “serve as an inspiration for the rising tide of democracy throughout the Commonwealth.”

Thabo Mbeki: Congratulate Malawians for peaceful vote. Thabo Mbeki: Congratulate Malawians for peaceful vote.

The observer groups are from the European Union (EU), the Commonwealth, the African (AU) and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC.


EU Observer mission Malawi

“The process was largely well organised by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and voting on election day was well-managed. But despite a generally peaceful campaign the pre-election period was marked also by tensions and an unlevel playing field,” said Miroslav Poche, Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM).

In terms of the preparations for the elections, Mr Poche stated: “The process was well-managed by MEC, and MEC’s inclusive and transparent approach meant that stakeholders retained a high level of confidence in the election management body. Of particular note was the improved integrity of the voter register, a revised and public election calendar and the creation of constituency tally centres.”

In considering the election campaign, Poche said: “The campaign was competitive, with a strong sense of public engagement at rallies and civic education events. However, despite being largely peaceful, there were some incidents and heightened tension. This was not helped by the various claims of “rigging” in the midst of the campaign. We also observed misuse of handouts and state resources and overall there was an unlevel playing field in favour of the ruling party”.

The EU EOM had a total of 83 observers, which reported from 342 polling stations, across 120 constituencies in 27 of the 28 Districts of Malawi.

“Looking ahead, the tallying of results continues and it is clear that problems with results sheets are causing challenges. The EU EOM will continue to follow this critical part of the process prior to making our final assessment. MEC needs to be allowed to complete its job and the country should remain calm as it awaits the final result,” concluded the Chief Observer.”

EU observers remain in the field to follow the results process and the EU EOM will remain in Malawi until 19 June.

The African Union mission

The African Union (AU) mission, led by John Mahama, former president of Ghana, said in its preliminary report concluded that the elections took place in a “peaceful environment” and the mission by Thursday when it issued the statement “had not noted any serious concerns with the process, either witnessed or observed.”

The AU mission commends the citizens of Malawi for their conduct during election day and calls on all stakeholders to continue in the spirit of peaceful cooperation and respect for the rule of law that has been witnessed to this point in the electoral process.”

The elections, the AU said, provided Malawians with the opportunity to choose their leaders at various layers of government in accordance with the legal framework for elections in Malawi.


Commonwealth Mission


On the other hand, the Commonwealth mission said : “We commend and congratulate all Malawians voters for turning out in significant numbers to participate peacefully in an important civic duty.”

Led by Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa and Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group,  the 29 member mission congratulated MEC and polling staff, political parties, citizen observers , media and security forces “for their respective roles in ensuring the success of the electoral process so far.”

“It is our hope,” he added, that “by bringing this electoral process to a successful conclusion, Malawi will serve as an inspiration for the rising tide of democracy throughout the Commonwealth.”


ECF-SADC mission

Irfan Rahman, mission leader of the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) countries, congratulated Malawians “on the manner in which they conducted themselves during the electoral period. They were able to exercise their democratic right to express their will,” Rahaman, the Electoral Commissioner of Mauritus, said MEC had discharged its duty “according to their mandate and in a credible manner.”

ECF-SADC, which had 21 observers, has its mandate to strengthen co-operation amongst electoral bodies in the region.

Al four missions will continue to monitor developments in the post-election period and will release final comprehensive reports with recommendations later.

Mutharika leads


Meanwhile, incumbent President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika is leading in the latest count of tallied and confirmed votes, scooping 40.49 percent of the vote. Mutharika has 1,436,878 votes, while on second position is Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP, who has bagged 1,257,853 votes, representing 35.44 percent.


On third is Saulos Chilima of UTM, with 651,124 votes, representing 18 percent.


Tallying and confirmation of votes continues at the national tally centre (Comesa Hall). MEC Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah will present fresh figures on Thursday night from 9 pm.

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