The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has questioned the involvement of the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) in providing security to its warehouse which was set on fire on by suspected arsonists, saying there was no arrangement between the Commission and the state spy agency.
MEC has also said that it is not ruling out arson and has since asked the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service to institute appropriate investigations.
“We have been made to understand that the National Intelligence Services (NIS) provided (security) services although this was not agreed with us. Equally there was no prior notification of their involvement,” said MEC Chairperson Maxon Mbendera.
The NIS is headed by governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, who during the standoff over the May 20 Elections raised eyebrows as was always the first to discover ‘stray’ ballot boxes as the other parties were pushing for a recount.
Mbendera said in as far as the Commission is concerned all necessary security measures were in place at the Lilongwe warehouse prior to the incident.
“The Commission wishes to emphasize that all security measures were taken. The official security detail at the warehouse included 10 armed Police Mobile Service (PMS) officers and two Security Guards from SWOOP Security Company per shift. In addition, Malawi Congress Party provided two monitors per shift,” he said.
The fire, among several materials, destroyed 2,400 ballot boxes which some contained ballot papers for the Lilongwe City South East whose results are being contested in court.
DPP candidate Bentry Namasasu won the race but Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) Ulemu Msungama petitioned the High Court disputing the results.
The High Court thereafter ruled to have the ballot papers in some of the centres re-counted but Namasasu obtained an injunction to stop the counting.
The fire incident happened just two days before the High Court could start hearing Namasasu’s arguments supporting his request to stop the recounting.
Mbendera further said that MEC met in an emergency session on Wednesday, 16th July, 2014 in Lilongwe to, among other things, consider preliminary reports issued to it concerning the fire.
He said according to the reports, the fire, which begun at around 00.25 hours, destroyed all electoral materials that were in the Warehouse including the ballot papers, 81 Gas Cylinders and168 Gas Lamps.
“Among the Ballot Papers that have been destroyed are those for Lilongwe City South East Constituency that were due to be recounted following a Court Order,” said Mbendera.
He added: “Having analysed the preliminary reports, the Commission is of the view that, arson cannot be ruled out. In view of the premises, the Commission has formally approached the Inspector General of Police to institute appropriate investigations.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :