24 April 2019

Malawi: Chakwera Tells MEC to Probe Poll Rigging Claims By President Mutharika

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hoepful Lazarus Chakwera has told the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to investigate claims by President Peter Mutharika of vote rigging.

Chakwera: MCP will not accept to be robbed of electoral victory this time around

"It is disturbing. It is disturbing to hear from the Head of State suggesting that there are some people who want to derail the law," said Chakwera.

This follows outbursts by Mutharika on Monday in Ntchisi during a political rally where he said an unnamed politician has hired vote rigging experts from Nigeria and Russia who have brought a rigging machine.

President Mutharika did not name the politician but political analysts say he was levelling the allegations against the vice-president Saulos Chilima who is challenging him for the presidency during the May 21 highly contentious tripartite election.

Chilima, who is the presidential torch bearer for UTM, has hit back, saying Mutharika is just afraid of his imminent crashing loss during the election.

But Chakwera said there is need for an independent team of investigations to probe the issue.

"We don't want a nation built on accusations and counter accusations," said Chakwera.

MEC commissioner Mary Nkosi has challenged Mutharika to bring forward the evidence that some people want to rig the elections.

She said such utterances have potential for voter apathy.

Chilima, a former private sector executive who rose to the position of Airtel Malawi managing director before quitting to partner Mutharika as running mate in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, said the DPP has engaged in "scare mongering" tactics but warned that he and the UTM Party will not be intimidated.

"They are hallucinating ehh mufuna mitible, ehh tikufinyani. Time is up, you will go by people's vote, izi zosiyilana," said Chilima.

Chilima, widely promoted by his initials SKC for Saulos Klaus Chilima, attacked Mutharika for presiding over corruption and nepotism.

This is the second time for Chilima to challenge President's recent rigging claims. In January when Mutharika made similar claims, he said in quotes reported by The Nation newspaper : "You [the President] say you know who is here to rig, you know the equipment is here for rigging and you know where the equipment is; and then you are doing nothing about it? As President, you could have sent police to arrest those involved... "

But presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani said at that time Chilima "cannot tell the President what to do. The government machinery will pounce on the rigging plot when it is necessary".

Ironically, after being declared winner of the 2014 presidential race, Mutharika is on record to have dismissed his predecessor Joyce Banda's claims that the election was rigged, telling British Broadcasting Corporation on May 22 2014: "I don't see how an opposition party can rig elections."

Previously, Chakwera claimed the DPP manipulated the results of the 2014 Tripartite Elections which saw President Mutharika--with Chilima as running mate--winning by 36 percent. MCP's Chakwera finished second with 27 percent.

There are assertions that Chilima helped DPP rig 2014 elections and MCP had previously asked him to thoroughly explain what it called a 'truth' that Chakwera won.

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