By Norah Hanke & Mwai Mkwapatira
Chief Elections Observer of the European Union Mission, Miroslav POCHE has said they have deployed 32 short-term observers throughout the country making it a third contingent following the core team and 28 long-term observers that have been in Malawi since April 14.
POCHE made the disclosure on Friday on the sidelines of a deployment exercise for a team of EU Election Observer Mission in Blantyre, saying the short-term observers will cover nearly all the districts in Malawi.
“The observers will be the eyes and ears of the mission on elections day during polling, counting and tallying of results. The team will conduct the observation in both rural and urban areas.
“The short-term observers received a two-day in-depth briefing on legal framework, electoral background and preparations, voting procedures, the political environment and other topics,” POCHE said.
He added that in total they would have 83 observers from all 28 member states as well as Norway, saying: “We will be visiting many polling stations from the opening to the closing of the polls.”
“EU observers are there to watch and take note of how the voting is conducted assessing issues such as respect of the right to vote, secrecy of the vote and performance of polling staff members,” he said.
“At the same time we will assess the transparency, accuracy and integrity of the process,” POCHE added.
He said the analysis will include legal framework, election administration, campaign activities of candidates and political parties, noting that the preliminary statement will be out two days after the elections and the final report with technical recommendations for future elections.
In an interview, one of the short-term observers, Cecilia Tollemark said she has been deployed to carry out the observation in Chikwawa where they will assess the authorities, MEC and the area, in general.
“We will observe the polling stations. We will support Malawi in a process with the elections and Malawian people are very friendly helping us to do a good job,” Tollemark said.
Tollemark said this was her first time to come to Malawi but she is well experienced from other countries. “So far, we have seen that the process is according to what the team taught us,” she said.
EU observers were invited by the Malawi Electoral Commission and Malawi Government to observe the Tripartite Elections scheduled for May 21, 2019.