Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Malawi 2014 tripartite elections: Statement on First Phase of Voting
Statement for Immediate Release
May 20, 2014
The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) under the banner of the Malawi Election Information Centre (MEIC) would like to highlight a number of observations and concerns issues noted as polling opened today.
As MESN and indeed the entire taskforce on the Malawi Information Centre (MEIC), we would like to express our concern on the wide spread late opening of polling centres across the country. We note that most polling stations opened as late as 9 am instead of 6 am - and centres such as Mtantha in Mzimba had not opened by 9:30 with most complaints being registered in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.
As at 9:20, we had received 14047 messages from our observers and 4410 from citizens. Of the 386 polling stations observed, 67 opened on time representing 17 % of the polling station where opening was observed.
We are also concerned that lack of materials is widespread. Most centres across the country did not have ink, voter register and ballot boxes as at 9 am today. About 25% of the total messages received from observers and citizens raised concern about lack of ballot papers and other materials.
Voting had to be halted in some polling stations in Lilongwe North West – Kasiya, Chifiuka, Majiga, Mbandanga, due to lack of materials. Reports just received indicate that voting has now resumed.
We have received reports of rioting in some parts of the Southern Region such as Blantyre- Blantyre Girls Secondary School, MEC offices, Chirimba Township in Blantyre, Machinjiri – where polling stations are reportedly not yet open and Catholic Institute (CI) – where irate citizens have blocked the road and Chikwawa Central.
We would like to call upon MEC and all relevant stakeholders to immediately address these concerns to avoid massive voter apathy and violence. As MESN and the task force on the Malawi Elections Information Centre, we strongly feel such developments have the potential of negatively affecting the elections.
We would like to call upon MEC to extend the voting period in all the centres that have opened late to ensure that everybody is allowed to vote and to immediately ensure that all the centres are open and have sufficient materials and personnel.
We are calling all Malawians to exercise calm and patience, and to maintain peace and order. Let the elections take place without major incidents.