Malawians split on elections impasse

Ordinary Malawians appear to be divided on how the country should proceed over the controversial presidential elections whose results could be announced on Friday if the courts rule out a recount.

There is a divided opinion on how to resolve the impasse with some backing the recount of ballots while others feel it is only going to drain the country’s resources – of course democracy is not cheap.

“I like the idea of a recount because it will settle all suspicions,” said Margaret Tamale, 36, a street vendor selling bananas outside the tally centre in the commercial capital Blantyre.

Maulidi: Dissapointed with MEC
Maulidi: Dissapointed with MEC

But Noel Bakuli, a labourer at a mattress manufacturing company, said the idea of a recount “is a waste of time and resources for a poor country like ours.”

They were all quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday.

The chief election officer, Willie Kalonga, has indicated that the recount, which could take up to 30 days, may cost the impoverished country around $4.2 million.

“We would have to ask government to fund us,” he said.

Malawi Electoral Commission chairman Maxon Mbendera said on Wednesday that the electoral body was preparing to announce its determination of the results on Friday, May 30, the day the commission is legally obliged to announce the result 8 days after polling.

But President Joyce Banda’s party has expressed reservations with MEC’s way of handling the issue.

“We are disappointed with MEC,” Paul Maulidi, secretary general of the People’s Party, told reporters after Mbendera’s announcement.

Maulidi, whose party had reportedly won 12 of the 193 parliamentary seats, said all political parties had agreed that there will be a recount to sort out “serious irregularities.”

He said PP supporters were bitter and had to be calmed down.

Despite the controversy, analysts have praised Malawi’s electoral commission for their handling of the crisis, perhaps the most serious since independence in 1963.

“Despite the political twists and turns, the drama, and the general public uneasiness, I think Malawi has demonstrated, again, that it has strong, respected and impartial institutions,” said Jeffrey Smith of the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

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