U-turn: Malawi Electoral Commission now suspects arson on ballot box fire

The Malawi Electoral Commission  (MEC) says it is now  suspecting that some people deliberately set on fire its warehouse in the capital Lilongwe in which all electoral materials that were in the Warehouse including 2,400 ballot boxes which contained ballot papers, 81 gas cylinders, 168 gas lamps, were destroyed.

This was said at its emergency session on Wednesday during which, among other things, it looked into consider preliminary reports issued to Commission concerning the fire.

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.

Justice Mbendera :  Suspects arson
Justice Mbendera : Suspects arson

“Having analyzed 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,” reads the statement signed by MEC chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera.

Mbendera says the Commission wishes to emphasize that all security measures were taken.

He says 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.

“We have been made to understand that the National Intelligence Services (NIS) provided services although this was not agreed with us.  Equally there was no prior notification of their involvement. The Commission will provide appropriate updates on this unfortunate incident, “says Mbendera.

Mbendera’s statement contradicts earlier statement made by the Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga who said the commission was treating the incident as a normal fire accident.

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