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Ballot papers arrive through Kia

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By Macdonald Thom:

There was tight security at the cargo section of Kamuzu International Airport (Kia) in Lilongwe, where the first consignment of ballot papers for the May 21 Tripartite Elections arrived Monday.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Jane Ansah, said Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers would provide security for the documents.

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The papers, which arrived Monday from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are for the Local Government elections and half of the ballot papers are meant for parliamentary polls.

Ballot papers for the presidential election and the rest for parliamentary polls are expected to arrive today.

The ballot papers will be put in the warehouse. The place is secure. We have got a whole platoon [of the MDF] that is residing here,” Ansah said.

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Representatives of political parties, civil society organisations and other stakeholders witnessed the arrival of the ballot papers.

Democratic Progressive Party director of elections, Ben Phiri, said they were satisfied with measures put in place to protect the ballot papers.

“Having done everything that we needed to do, two last things we wanted were the arrival of ballots and the voting day. Coming today to the airport to witness this important occasion is certainly news beyond excitement,” Phiri said.

Richard Chapweteka, Malawi Congress Party Think Tank member, said the party was happy with the whole process, starting from printing of the ballots in Dubai to how they were brought into the country.

“Mec has done an excellent job. Honestly speaking, we could not have asked for any better arrangement. Our expectation is that this transparent process will continue to the polling day,” Chapweteka said.

UTM deputy director of elections, Bright Kawaga, also said his party was happy with the process.

“The warehouse where the ballot papers will be kept is also safe and we are happy with it. We have inspected the premises; they are well-secured and we believe that, by the time they are going to polling centres, they will be intact,” Kawaga said.

National Initiative for Civic Education Public Trust Executive Director, Ollen Mwalubunju, said the arrival of the ballot papers was an indication that the country was ready for the elections.

“This shows that things are under control,” Mwalubunju said.

During the last National Elections Consultative Forum meeting, Ansah told stakeholders that distribution of the materials to constituencies commenced on April 30.

She, however, said sensitive materials would be moved to councils from May 16 2019.

Ashah said, from May 17 to 18, all materials would be distributed to polling stations as well as deployment of polling staff and security personnel.

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