Voice of America (Washington, DC)

23 March 2014

Malawi: Govt to Present Preliminary Voters List to Public

Malawi's Electoral Commission (MEC) plans to release a preliminary voters list on Monday to allow prospective voters to verify their information before the May 20 general election, says Sangwani Mwafulirwa, spokesman for the electoral body.

The electoral commission is compiling a voters list that would be used for the presidential, legislative and local elections. Mwafulirwa says the MEC seeks to produce a dependable voters list to be used for the poll.

"All people who registered will be required to go to the center where they registered and verify how their details are displayed in the register," said Mwafulirwa. "If there is any anomaly, this is the period we would want them to correct it. If there are some people who relocated from the centers where they registered, this is the good time to put in transfers."

During this period, Mwafulirwa says, the electoral body will replace any lost voters certificates that will enable the voters to participate in the general election.

"This opening up of the voters' role will be in two phases. The first phase is running from 24th to 28th of March and the second phase is going to run from the 1st to the 5th of April," said Mwafulirwa. "After this period whatever will be noted during this time, we are going to go back as the electoral commission to update our voters' role then we will print the final voter register which will be used for the polling day."

Mwafulirwa says the MEC is closely monitoring the ongoing campaigns to ensure the political parties adhere to the electoral act to reduce tensions and violence.

He also says the electoral body has a logistical working arrangement with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to provide lamps for Malawi's vote.

But some political observers expressed worry the working relationship between the two electoral bodies could undermine the integrity of Malawi's election. They contend the Zimbabwe electoral commission was unable to administer a credible election after international observers questioned the results of Zimbabwe's 2013 election.

Mwafulirwa disagreed that the credibility of the May 20 vote could be undermined. He says the electoral commission informed political parties and other stakeholders about the need to borrow gas lamps from the Zimbabweans.

"We have borrowed from the Zimbabwe electoral commission 10,500 gas lamps, which we want to use on the polling day. Why we decide to [do this] is because our stakeholders were complaining that the lighting system that we have in some of the polling centers is so poor that they cannot see clearly at night, and some centers were using generators and there were instances whereby the generators run out of fuel," said Mwafulirwa.

He says the Malawi electoral commission has allocated funds to pay for the borrowed gas lamps.

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