Former ruling Peoples Party (PP) has joined other political parties in condemning torching of a warehouse that destroyed ballot boxes containing votes from a disputed election just days after a court ordered a recount.
PP and two other opposition parties Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) have condemned the incident with MCP believing the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has knowledge of how the fire occurred.
Kenneth Msonda, spokesman of PP, said events surrounding the incident raise suspicion of a foul play.
“It is worrisome, unfortunate and a threat to multiparty democracy, rule of law, human rights and freedoms. We condemn in its totality the MEC Lilongwe warehouse fire incident. Looking at sequence of events the incident raises suspensions,” said Msonda.
He added: “Memories are still fresh in people’s minds that during the 20th May Tripartite General Elections after MEC proposed vote recounting, ballot boxes and papers were found along roadsides and DPP senior party officials companied with their party supporters were always the first to arrive at the scene.”
PP spokesman argued that the Lilongwe incident is a reminder to the citizenry of cases in the past when markets, houses and offices of individuals and institutions deemed to be anti-government were being set on fire.
“It seems we are drifting back to the old dark-age of dictatorship and suppression of democratic rights and freedoms. God forbid. The citizenry, major political parties and electoral stakeholders will surely lose trust in MEC after assuring the nation that the 20th May Tripartite General Elections electoral materials and equipment is being kept in well secured warehouses and storerooms,” he added.
MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwila said MCP was convinced that the incident was directly linked to a political dispute between MCP candidate, Ulemu Msungama and DPP’s Bently Namasusa over who declared winner for Lilongwe City South East constituency.
“It is very suspicious. First they refuse a recount and obtain an injunction, and just when the seven days given by the court for a final judgment on the matter are ending, we hear that the warehouse has burnt down.
“They had a hand in this otherwise they would not refuse a recount if they were true winners,” she said observing that even the injunction against the order to recount was obtained “at night,” Kabwila argued.
Opposition Malawi Congress Party candidate Ulemu Msungama, who lost the election by 98 votes, had challenged the results and the case was due back in court on Thursday.