analysisBy Richard Lee
If you are a Malawian - or indeed anyone interested in the critically important elections in May - then there is one website you need to bookmark: the Malawi Election Information Centre.
The MEIC website has just been launched and will provide critical information and services in the run-up to the tripartite - presidential, parliamentary and local - elections.
Part Election Situation Room (ESR), part Citizens Journalism initiative and part voter information centre, the MEIC has three main aims. Firstly, it will support the Malawi Electoral Commission to manage the elections process to ensure its credibility and that the process is free, fair, and reflects the will of Malawians.
Secondly, the MEIC will provide voters with credible evidence-based information gathered by observers on a real-time basis as events unfold on election day, which will be used by experts to analyse situations at polling stations to keep the people informed and prevent rumour mongering that may result in violence.
And thirdly, the MEIC will provide a rapid response in case of election-related emergencies - for example by informing the Commission and the police - that might affect the credibility of the electoral process.
The MEIC will be open to the media and the public - and will utilise free SMS messages to allow voters to verify that they are registered and to give citizen journalists an opportunity to report on election-related news across the country.
Funded by OSISA and Hivos, the MEIC involves a coalition of civil society organisations led by the Malawi Electoral Support Network MESN.
A key component of the project is the inaugural Malawi Election Situation Room (ESR). Modelled on similar, successful initiatives in other African countries that were pioneered by OSIWA, the ESR will provide a platform for civil society organisations to collaborate on election observation, monitoring, rapid response and proactive advocacy - and so help to ensure that the polls are free and fair.
And critically - that the people of Malawi believe that the elections accurately represent their votes and their will.
But there is so much more to this project - so go to the website and have a look. And then have another look next week because it is going to be constantly evolving with new features and new content.
For information on the elections in Malawi, there really is no other (online) place to go.