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Mec dismisses vote-rigging claims

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By Eric Msikiti:

UPBEAT—Ansah

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has once again dismissed fears that some people will rig May 21 Tripartite elections 18 days before polling day.

Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah said this in Blantyre yesterday during the last National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof ) meeting ahead of the May 21 polls.

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Ansah called such claims from political leaders as irresponsible and careless maintaining no one will rig the elections without facing the consequences of such attempts.

President Peter Mutharika, who is also the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torchbearer in the election, two weeks ago said he knows of plans by certain politicians who have contracted people from Nigeria, Greece and Russia to rig the elections.

Consequently, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services recently announced tough measures in providing visas to citizens of some countries such as Greece, Nigeria and India, who want to visit Malawi.

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UTM candidate Saulos Chilima was also once quoted as saying some people want to rig the election before changing tune announcing that the elections will not be rigged.

Tuesday, Mec Electoral Services Committee Chairperson Jean Mathanga claimed some politicians want to tamper with the polling and result transmission system for the May 21 elections but said the commission was alert.

But in her report to delegates of the final Necof meeting, Ansah said the commission does not suspect that anyone will rig the election.

“From the inside of the commission, we do not suspect anyone is doing or can do that (rigging). We do not believe that rigging is possible with the system and procedures we have in place. For someone to rig the elections, they need collusion of the whole commission and the whole polling system, which is impossible.” Ansah said.

“This is a mammoth task and we cannot imagine someone can do it. We have been in several forums where no one has brought evidence to support the allegation of rigging,” she added.

Ansah then disclosed that the commission has finished printing of ballot papers for all the three elections by Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing of Dubai saying the voter register was ready and shared with those who requested it.

She said the ballot papers will arrive in the country on 1May 15 through Kamuzu International Airport from where distribution will start.

“We have printed 7,316,500 ballot papers for each of the three elections, (Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government) against a population of 6,859,570 Malawians who registered to vote,” Ansah said.

Three major parties, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), DPP and UTM, sent their monitors to Dubai where the ballot papers were being printed.

“As MCP, we are satisfied with the way the whole process was done and we can assure Malawians that, based on what we saw, no one will be able to rig the elections,” said Charles Kamwangale, the party’s monitor in Dubai.

UTM’s monitor Henry Matemba echoed the same sentiments saying the party was satisfied with all security features, ordering and packaging of the ballot papers.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres hailed Mec for a cleanest possible voter register which she said has been brought about by the National Identity card.

But Torres called for more effort in ensuring inclusion during the election.

“We must do all we can to make sure that no one is left behind so that all and every segment of the Malawian society – women, persons with disability, persons with albinism, flood-affected populations and persons deprived of liberty – are able to freely exercise their rights on the election day,” Torres said.

Mec will announce the winner of May 21 Tripartite Elections within eight days from the polling day.

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