EU observer mission team optimistic of credible polls

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for the May 21 Tripartite Elections has expressed optimism that the elections will be transparent, credible and in accordance with electoral laws.

In an interview before deployment of 28 long-term observers in Blantyre yesterday, the mission’s deputy chief observer Mark Stevens said they are approaching the electoral period with an open mind but with the expectation that the process will be inclusive.

Part of the long-term observers captured before departure in Blantyre yesterday

He explained: “The long-term observers will cover all 28 districts, looking at both urban and rural areas. They will observe the entire electoral process prior to, during and after the vote on 21 May. The observers will be meeting electoral officials, candidates and representatives from political parties, civil society and the media.”

Stevens said deployment of the observers, who will later be joined by 32 short-term observers a few days before the elections, is an affirmation of the EU’s commitment to supporting the country in strengthening its democratic processes.

He said: “This is a continuation of EU’s commitment to try and help Malawi strengthen elections in the democratic process of the country. We, as an observation mission, are completely independent and we are part of EU’s broader contributions.”

Stevens added that the mission will issue its preliminary report on the elections two days after the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) formally announces the results, and will remain in the country until mid-June.

A final report—with technical recommendations for future elections—will be published at a later stage.

An observer from Germany, Kerstin Broering, said in a separate interview she is keen to see how the electoral process will be in the country.

“We arrived early to observe the campaign and also preparations and we have to do everything according to our methodology which we are very familiar with because we have done this before in other countries. So we are curious to see what’s happening in Malawi,” she said.

On his part, another observer from Italy, Mario Orru, said they have had comprehensive training on substantive matters on both the political and electoral side upon their arrival which has prepared them for the mission.

The EU EOM was invited to deploy an election observation mission by MEC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The EU EOM is independent from the EU institutions and EU member states. It is committed to remaining neutral and abiding by the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct for International Elections Observers and the laws and regulations of Malawi.

The EU also deployed EOM’s to Malawi in 2004, 2009 and 2014 and election follow ups were done in 2013 and 2017 to reflect on the EU’s long-term commitment to support democracy in the country.

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