Malawi: Ten AU Observers in Ahead of May 20 Polls
Lilongwe — Ten African Union (AU) long-term observers (LTOs) are in the country to carry out a comprehensive observation of the election process until the day the final results are announced.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe Monday evening, AU Ambassador to Malawi and Regional Delegate to Southern Africa, Salif Sada Sall, said the observers were in the country at the invitation of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and that they were drawn from representative countries of the continents' blocs of SADC, ECOWAS and AEC.
"The African Union LTOs are from Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia and they will carry out a comprehensive observation of the whole process in all parts of Malawi," explained Sall.
"The observers will meet regularly with representatives of Malawi Electoral Commission, political parties, independent candidates, civil society organisations, media, domestic observers, and international organizations' representatives in the country to assess electoral preparations and the pre-electoral environment throughout the country in advance of the May 20 polls."
The AU Ambassador disclosed that the Union would deploy another team of 43 short-term observers (STOs) who would join the LTOs in the country on 14th May, about a week ahead of the polling day.
He said the STOs would come from different institutions and organisations in Africa, including the Pan-African Parliament, electoral management bodies and civil society organisations.
Explained the Ambassador: "The STOs will visit polling stations in order to observe the opening of the polling stations as well as the voting and counting operations. Following Election Day, the Mission Leader will issue a preliminary statement with a preliminary assessment of the process.
"A final report, with recommendations for future elections, would be released by the Chair Person of the African Union Commission at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, not later than 60 days after the elections."
Sall expressed optimism that Malawi would conduct a peaceful election given the peace-loving reputation the country's citizenry had.
But he stressed that while the observers' mandate was just to observe and report and not to interfere with the process, they were mandated to ensure peace across the continent and that in the event that peace was threatened during the elections, the observers would file a report to the AU Headquarters for appropriate action.
AU Political Officer on Elections, Idrissa Kamara, who is part of the LTOs' team as Co-coordinator and focal person said during the mission's stay in the country, they would assess if the country was abiding to the relevant AU instruments such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the AU/AOU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa; and the AU Guidelines for Elections Observation and Monitoring Missions, which provides guidelines of professional and impartial election observation.
By Kondwani Magombo