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European Union, Sadc out of fresh poll

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The European Union (EU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) have said they will not send election observation teams for the fresh presidential election, citing the absence of invitations and the Covid-19 pandemic as some of the reasons.

In an emailed response, EU delegation to Malawi Charge d’affaires, Ivo Hoefkens, said they will not send an observation team because there is no invitation from Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) on the same.

Hoefkens added that the EU believes that the recommendations that it made for the 2019 elections are still relevant for the upcoming poll.

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“For EU to send an observation team there should be a formal request from the authorities of the country hosting an election. Up until this point, there has not been such an invitation,” he said.

Hoefkens also indicated that the final report that was to be presented for the 2019 election was still relevant to the preparations of the fresh election and that it was wrong to use the preliminary assessment findings as EU’s position on the poll.

“We would be happy to work with the relevant authorities and stakeholders to help address these. As we have always done, also with the previous observer missions’ recommendations, we will share the recommendations with all relevant electoral stakeholders for the betterment of future processes.

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“It is therefore inappropriate to use the preliminary statement to justify a misleading narrative about the EU having certified the elections as “free and fair”, or having made any other sweeping assertion. In fact, the preliminary statement—issued 48 hours after Election Day— is a balanced assessment, which includes references to irregularities in the process observed up until that point,” Hoefkens said.

He also spoke on the current spate of politically-motivated violence, saying the EU considers that it is important at this time that all political actors call for restraint and “should stand united in the defence of human rights and rule of law, and against any acts of violence, incitement of violence or hate speech.”

On her part, Sadc Head of Communications and Public Relations, Barbara Lopi, said it was doubtful that the regional bloc would send representatives to observe Malawi’s presidential election.

“We don’t know as yet as most countries in the region as still under lockdown due to Covid-19,” Lopi said, adding that the office of Sadc chairperson will announce the regional group’s position.

But Mec Director Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, indicated that the commission will not send fresh invitations apparently because the 2019 ones are still valid.

After the 2019 presidential election was nullified by the Constitutional Court, national and international media and other stakeholders criticised observation missions for allegedly failing to expose irregularities which were later recognised by the courts.

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