The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) have followed with keen interest events surrounding the tripartite elections vote count process as well as misgivings from various stakeholders, including some contestants. It’s on record that even Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has admitted to some of the hiccups dogging the counting stage of the elections. Thus, some quarters including the State President Joyce Banda of Peoples Party (PP) have called for nullification of the outcomes; whereas United Democratic Front (UDF) torch bearer Atupele Muluzi recently went to town on MEC, asking the body’s chairperson to step down.
While these calls by concerned parties run the risk of being seen as last kicks of a dying horse, CHRR and CEDEP call upon MEC to remain steadfast towards delivering the elections results that live up to the country’s hard-won democracy.
The onus still lies squarely on MEC to execute an electoral job that will satisfy all stakeholders. In its announcement of first round of official presidential results, MEC cited 19 hitches-ridden centres; and some stakeholders fear the number could go up in subsequent results announcements. Nothing could be less disturbing.
Of even more concern is that the hitches dogging MEC did start at the vote counting stage. The electorate woke up to a rude awakening right from the voter verification exercise which recorded a number of anomalies. Then came the chaotic distribution of polling materials especially in centres surrounding Blantyre, leading to extended voting period.
While most of the electorate still exercised patience with MEC, largely due to its transparent culture in the whole electoral process, CHRR and CEDEP reckon that all these challenges up to the counting process have the potential to undermine the credibility of the elections.
Thus, CHRR and CEDEP find it refreshing that, on the back of calls to have results nullified and that the MEC chairs resign, the electoral body has announced to have a thorough vote audit to get to the bottom of the hitches. We commend MEC for taking this route.
CHRR and CEDEP take that MEC should not see itself as being in a race against time to announce the results; but rather work towards truly democratic elections, however long it takes.
Lastly, CHRR and CEDEP call upon Malawians to remain calm as MEC does its duties. Malawians must let MEC do its job independently and according to laws without influence or threats from anyone. CHRR and CEDEP also ask political party leaders and other stakeholders to avoid making announcements that may escalate the already simmering tensions.
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