Polling station set on fire, MEC says Malawi army to ‘expand its presence’

Disgruntled voters torched a house set to be used as a voting station at Chiwembe Township in commercial city of Blantyre.

Voters said they had been waiting for too long for the station to open and were annoyed they were not exercising their right to vote

“Electoral material, including ballot boxes, chairs and stationery, were destroyed,” Police said.

No arrests had been made yet, but police were following leads.

Chiwembe polling station torched

Chiwembe polling station torched

Meanwhile, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Maxon Mbendera told an afternoon news briefing that they are calling on Malawi Defence Force to deploy soldiers to help Police service in maintaining order.

“Malawi Defence Force will expand its presence in all stations and will deploy to assist Police,” said Mbendera.

Mbendera said MEC has been “monitoring all stations of polling in the country” and that it was addressing a few remaining centers where polling delayed.

Said Mbendera: “21 centers were affected by loss of voters list during transportation. Some have been reprinted and sent to the affected centers.”

“If a voters name is not on the list, its voters’ right to ask for Part A record to be checked,” he said.Mbendera announced that MEC will extend polling hours to 9PM this evening.

“Any voter still on the cue to vote at 9pm will be allowed to vote,” he said.

On serious disruption in some centers, MEC said it will make “necessary decision to preserve integrity of elections.”
He also disclosed that police were investing “hoaxes” and photos excluding candidates circulating in social media.

“Police are handling this issue for criminal charges,” said Justice Mbendera.

Although Malawi has a history of peaceful elections, the risk of post-election unrest cannot be discounted.

The Malawi Civil Society Grand Coalition fears the irregularities could precipitate violence such as riots in major urban centres, and has urged the MEC to address them.

The 11 presidential aspirants – who are unanimously challenging President Joyce Banda – have warned that if the elections aren’t free, fair, transparent and credible, this would result in a disputed outcome, which could have catastrophic consequences after the polls.

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