The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Malawi, on Thursday deployed 32 short-term observers throughout the country, making a total of 83 observers that are currently in the country since early last month to monitor the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Addressing reporters at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre, EU EOM Malawi’s Chief Observer Miroslav Poche, a member of the European Parliament, said the short-term observers will enable their coverage of nearly all the 28 districts in both urban and rural areas.
“They will be the eyes and the ears of the mission on election day during polling, counting and tallying of results”, he said.
“Prior to their deployment, the short-term observers received a two-day indepth briefing in Blantyre on the legal framework, electoral background and preparations, voting procedures, the political environment and other topics.
“The short-term observers will be supplemented by a small group of observers drawn from among diplomats from EU member states accredited in Malawi. In total the EU EOM will comprise on election day 83 observers from all 28 member states as well as Norway.
“The EU EOM observers will be visiting many polling stations from the opening to the closing of the polls. They will not interfere in the process.
“They are there to watch and take note of how the voting is conducted, assessing issues such as respect of the right to vote, secrecy of the vote, performance of polling staff members, the role of monitors and domestic observers, women’s participation.
“During the counting, observers will assess the transparency, accuracy and integrity of the process.
“The EU EOM’s overall analysis also includes aspects such as the legal framework, the work of the election administration, the campaign activities of candidates and political parties, the extent to which there is a level playing field, the conduct of the media, voting, counting, the tallying and transmission of results and the resolution of any election-related disputes,” Poche said.
After observing the voting at the Old Tax Office, close to the government offices next to Blantyre Magistrate Court, Poche is expected to make a statement to the media and that two days after the elections, the EU EOM will issue a preliminary statement while the final report — with technical recommendations for future elections — will be published later.
Last month at a news conference from Lilongwe, Poche had said Malawi’s May 21 tripartite elections are an opportunity to conduct polls which enjoy the confidence of the people, building on what has been done previously and learning also from past challenges.
He had also said the Mission is encouraged that some of the recommendations raised during past elections have been addressed, such as an improved voter register, though some remain to be dealt with.
“We hope for a peaceful campaign where contestants can compete on a level playing field. It is critical that the planning for elections is turned into an operational reality and all of the preparations, including identifying sufficient transportation, are put in place in a timely manner. We also hope that the results process will be transparent and timely, to retain the confidence of all stakeholders.”
During the visit, the Chief Observer has been meeting with MEC, the government, political parties, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.
This is the fourth time the EU has deployed an election observation mission to Malawi and its presence for the 2019 polls demonstrates the European Union’s continuing commitment to the conduct of peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible elections in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :