- Title: MALAWI: Election observers from regional bloc arrive
- Date: 13th May 2009
- Summary: BLANTYRE, MALAWI (FILE - FEBRUARY 2009) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SUPPORTERS OF BAKILI MULUZI, FORMER MALAWI PRESIDENT, IN THE STREETS WHILE HIS CAR DRIVING THROUGH MULUZI'S CAR ARRIVING AT COURT (SOUNDBITE) (English) BAKILI MULUZI, FORMER MALAWI PRESIDENT, SAYING: "But these are matters which I am sure will be in court and I am prepared to give those kind of answers. But all what I am saying is, I think it is political." MULUZI LEAVING COURT / SUPPORTERS CHEERING
- Embargoed: 28th May 2009 13:00
- Location: Malawi
- Country: Malawi
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA14I3AU6KRQ5LBSKK25QZDVME3
- Story Text: Election observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) arrive in Malawi ahead of May 19 elections.
Election observers from the regional bloc SADC (Southern African Development Community) have arrived in Malawi ahead of elections on May
President Bingu wa Mutharika is still widely expected to win the presidential vote held against the background of an economic boom under his 4-year rule.
Former Malawian president Bakili Muluzi and his United Democratic Front (UDF) recently formed an alliance with main opposition leader John Tembo's Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to challenge Mutharika.
"As a mission we bring vast experience in the election observations. For the last twenty three years the SADC Parliamentary Forum has been involved in the observer missions. So, we do have kind of experience that can be of benefit to the people of Malawi and we have already shared our experience with the political parties and also we continue to share,"
said Lovemore Moyo, the Speaker of Zimbabwe's parliament who is also leading the SADC observers.
The electoral body commission had barred Former Malawian president Bakili Muluzi from contesting the election last month, a move that some feared would raise political tension and create concern among Western donors.
Muluzi, accused of siphoning aid money to pay for previous election campaigns, called his arrest "political" in an interview with Reuters in February.
Under the alliance Muluzi, who remains a powerful political force in the southern African nation and has considerable grassroots support, will throw his weight behind Tembo's candidature in the presidential vote.
"There are no indications that we can experience violence here which is really, I think, is a positive thing that there are all promises that these elections will be heard in a much freer and conducive environment. So, we hope that we will maintain that kind of atmosphere," Moyo continued.
Political commentators have described the new alliance as the biggest threat to the president's re-election bid.
Opposition leaders warn that Mutharika could use his position to manipulate the polls.
"You know that the voter register is still having a problem. I don't know to what extent that problem will impact the elections. You know that when the ballot papers arrived in the country it was a source of concern because they did not announce the arrival until when the plane had already touched down and these are the areas where we get worried about the independence of the Malawi Electoral Commission," said Fred Njumbe, the director of economic affairs for the UDF.
Seven candidates, including one woman, are running against wa Mutharika in the presidential race in which 5.8 million Malawians have registered to vote.
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