Statement for Immediate Release
Malawi 2014 Tripartite Elections
May 21, 2014
The Malawi Election Information Centre (MEIC) under the banner of the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) would like to highlight a number of observations noted as we continue to observe the on-going voting process. The following observations cover the period since the last briefing at 10:30 hours yesterday morning.
From the onset, we would like to state that a total of 4450 observers were trained and deployed in all the districts across the country to observe the voting process. In addition, we also trained 25 data officers to capture reports from observers.
We raised a number of concerns in our preliminary report issued at 10:30 hours yesterday especially on widespread late opening of polling centers, inadequate resources in most of the polling centres in the southern region, especially Blantyre and outbreak of riots in centers such as Ndirande Malabada and Bangwe. Following those concerns, MESN and members of the MEIC Taskforce engaged MEC to address the concerns we had raised. MEC followed the provisions of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and extended voting in centers that failed to vote yesterday.
As MESN and the taskforce on MEIC, we make this statement today, which is based on reports sent by our observers who observed opening of polls, the voting process, closing of polls and counting. The observation is still continuing in centers that are voting and counting.
Opening of polls
As indicated in our preliminary report issued at 10:30 hours yesterday, about 25% of the 1139 polling stations we monitored across the country opened on time. By 14:00 hours, 1114 had opened, representing 97.81 % and by this time MEC had announced an extension of voting in centres that opened late.
Inadequate or lack of materials was generally reported throughout the country. Most notable was the shortage of inadequacy of indelible ink, ballot boxes, ballot papers, seals and the voter registers to the extent that some centres in the southern and central regions are voting today – for example Dedza South, Lilongwe South West, Blantyre South West, Blantyre West, Blantyre City South East, Blantyre City Centre, Blantyre Malabada and Blantyre City East constituencies. Some centres, such as Mkumba in Mangochi South, Naotcha in Blantyre and Mbalachanda centre in Mzimba ran out of materials and voting had to be halted.
Our observers in different polling centres across the country reported that voting was generally peaceful. However, some of our observers reported riots in some parts of the southern region notably Ndirande Malabada, Bangwe and Catholic Institute and some disturbances at the Tax Office at Blantyre Central, in Blantyre.
By 18:00 hours 20% of the polling stations we were observing had completed voting. By 21:00 hours 26 % of the polling stations monitored had started counting votes. It is also important to note that 94% of the polling centres monitored had adequate lighting and 97.6 % experienced no incidents.
Monitors and Security
99.3% of the polling centres we observed had political party agents and other monitors present. In addition 99.8% of the polling centres between 06:00 and 18:00 hours had security details present, 100 % presence of security personnel during voting and counting across the country.
Our observers reported rioting in some parts of the Southern Region between 7:00 and 14:00 hours, mostly in Blantyre where ballot papers were burnt. We received reports that voting was halted in 3 centres in Blantyre Malabada – Matope, Kachere, Ndirande Community Hall and Namarimwe. These are voting today. MESN has since condemned these violent actions.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned disturbing incidents, our reports show that 97.6% of the polling centres observed had no incidents by 18:00 hrs yesterday.
We are still observing the elections and we will come up with a more comprehensive assessment at the end of the process.