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Opposition can pull a surprise—Lazarus Chakwera

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Opposition political parties in the country have hailed the outcome of US elections saying it has renewed their hope that with a level play field, opposition can win in the forthcoming polls slated for May 2019.

In the elections, Donald Trump, a Republican, triumphed despite his party being in opposition, beating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton who was poised to win the elections according to opinion polls.

In an interview on Wednesday, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera said it is very possible for someone who was not in mainstream politics and government as it were with Trump, to carry the day only if things are done properly.

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Chakwera faulted the country’s electoral system which allows for announcement of results to be done at a tally centre and not the polling centre where voting takes place arguing that the arrangement gives room to unscrupulous people to tamper with ballot papers.

“Modern technology can help a lot; the way our vote counting is done leaves a lot of gaps for rigging. When you travel with ballot papers in the night there is a lot of machinations which can be done and if you compare with the American system, it is extremely impossible to rig the elections because the results are announced right there and then, if things are done differently, opposition can pull a surprise” Chakwera said.

The MCP President, who is also Leader of Opposition, hopes that suggestions put forward on need for electoral reforms will be taken seriously and acted upon before the country goes to the polls in 2019 saying there is need to clear all grey areas if elections are to be credible.

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Said Chakwera: “We already put forward these suggestions during consultations so as to streamline the process. We need a transparent way of managing elections. We don’t have to carry ballot papers and bring them to a tally centre.”

Former ruling People’s Party (PP) has also said popularity of a particular party is not an assurance for victory adding that traditions can be broken because people are now tired of doing the same things the same way and not having expected results.

The party’s Publicity Secretary, Noah Chimpeni, told The Daily Times that Trump’s win has given the opposition impetus that it is possible to win from a disadvantaged position.

“Malawians vote mostly based on regions and tribal lines but this is slowly changing. People are tired of establishments, people now want issues and not the usual rhetoric,” Chimpeni said.

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