19 May 2019

Malawi Rights Defenders Ask MEC to Be 'Proactive' On Heightening Rigging Claims

Photo: AEP
Polling agents in Blantyre (file photo).

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has expressed dissatisfaction at the rate rumors of elections rigging are thriving in the country ahead of the Tuesday watershed polls, saying they are worrisome towards the credibility of Tripartite Elections; and, have since asked pollster the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to be on top of the situation.

Mtambo: Fears May 19 elections will not be credible

In a letter addressed to MEC chairperson, Jane Ansah, and copied to secretary generals of the seven parties participating in this year's election, HRDC demands a "response to and position on serious allegations regarding electoral process ahead of voting day."

Signed by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence--national and deputy national chairpersons respectively--HRDC leetr which Nyasa Times has a copy, urges MEC to take "seriously" and "respond in a timely manner" to emerging allegations and concerns regarding the ruling party's rigging of the upcoming tripartite elections.

According to the statement, in particular, HRDC wants the pollster to ascertain whether rumours that DPP has employed cadets under the guise and uniforms of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to carry pre-marked ballot papers towards rigging the elections are true.

"Second, we inquire after the rationale of non-inclusion of police officers in Chikhwawa and Nsanje in electoral monitoring. Finally, we are deeply concerned about the allegations that MACRA will condone the shut down of electronic communication and social media platforms on or around Election Day.

"We remind MEC that their duty lies with serving Malawians and not any particular political party. Thus, we call upon MEC to proactively respond to each of these disturbing allegations in a timely and comprehensive manner so as to ensure Malawians and other stakeholders that the upcoming elections will be free, fair, and credible," reads HRDC statement in part.

The letter comes hours after state vice president and UTM Party torchbearer, Saulos Chilima, held an early press briefing at his Area 12 official residence in the capital Lilongwe Sunday morning in which he insinuated that there were serious rigging plots being orchestrated by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Chilima mentioned Augustine Chihuri--former Commissioner General of Zimbabwe police--as being hired by the DPP to recruit cadets under the guise and uniforms of the MPS during polling day.

He demanded that Chihuri "leave this country immediately."

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