"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

US proposes for parallel tally centre

American Ambassador to Malawi Peter Bodde has
suggested that donors should put up a parallel tally centre for vote
count in the May 19 polls.

The ambassador said this would help verify results.

But in a separate interview, Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) urged
proponents of such an idea to write the election administrators.

Mec publicist Fegus Lipenga said such ideas could only be discussed if presented in writing.

Mec recently turned down a similar idea from the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn).

Among the reasons given by Mec were that such structures would bring
confusion apart from the fact that only Mec was mandated to handle
elections in Malawi.

Mec advised Mesn to use their monitors to ensue credibility of the results.

Ambassador Bodde, however, said he was encouraged with the way Malawi was preparing for the elections.

“I am also happy that both President Mutharika and opposition leaders
said they would welcome international observers to monitor the
election,” he said.

US, one of the country’s major donors, said it was looking forward to a
free, fair and credible presidential and parliamentary election in
Malawi on May 19 and has since asked for a parallel donor-funded tally

Bodde’s comments come before the campaign window is officially opened
but major political parties have already started electioneering with
the opposition picking food shortage and high prices of fuel and other
commodities as the campaign issue.

The ruling DPP has picked the macro-economic stability and President
Bingu wa Mutharika’s development programmes, especially in the road
infrastructure sector, as the major issues.

But Bodde said as an American envoy to Malawi, he could not comment on
internal politics but emphasised that everything should be done to have
a free, fair and credible election whose outcome will be the will of

“I am very encouraged that the President told me personally that he is
committed to free and fair elections. I met the heads of various
political parties, they told me they too are of that view,” he said.

He described voting as a precious right, saying all Malawians have a responsibility to go and vote for leaders of their choice.

Mec has in the past two elections of 1999 and 2004 mounted tally
centres at Comesa Hall in Blantyre where all poll results were
forwarded and displayed.

In the recent elections in Zimbabwe, the civil societies had their own
tally centre apart from that of the country’s electoral body to ensure
credible results.

Last year, US gave Malawi a US$100 million aid package and this year, it is expected to roll out another US$100 million in aid.

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