European Union election observation mission to Malawi says although the tripartite election has generally been peaceful, pre-election political high tension and misuse of handouts and state resources by the DPP created unlevel playing field.
Miroslav Poche, chief observer of the EU observation mission told journalists in Blantyre that the election was well managed, inclusive, transparent and competitive but the campaign was marked by tensions and unlevel playing field.
“The process was largely well organized 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 unlevel playing field,” said Poche.
On preparations for the elections, Poche said the process was well managed by MEC, saying MEC’s inclusive and transparent approach meant that stakeholders retained a high-level of confidence in the election management body.
He said of particular note was the improved integrity of the voter register, a revised and public election calendar and the creation of constituency tally centres.
“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 campaign. We also observed misuse of handouts and state resources and overall there was an unlevel playing field in favour of the ruling party,” said Poche.
He said on election day, the EU observers reported very positively on the opening and voting procedures.
Poche said the vote count was transparent but less well managed, partly due to the difficult conditions and poor adherence to procedures.
“Looking forward ahead, the tallying continues and it is clear that problems with result 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 results,” said Poche.
The observer mission has been in Malawi since May 4 and had 28 long term observers covering the districts during the pre-election period.
On election day, the team had a total of 83 observers which reported from 342 polling stations across 120 constituencies in 27 of the 28 districts of the country.
Poche said the observer team remains in the field to follow the results process and will leave Malawi on June 19.
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