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Malawi - 2019 Elections

For the first time since Malawi adopted multiparty democracy, government will fund the general elections without donor support. Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe revealed this when presenting the K1.5 trillion 2018/19 national budget in Lilongwe on 20 May 2018. He said government will provide the K31.5 billion budget for the 2019 tripartite elections without donor support. The election budget will cover voter registration and verification, education and outreach, election materials, vehicles and polling services.

In 2014 citizens voted in simultaneous presidential, parliamentary, and local elections. International observers characterized those elections as generally peaceful, free, credible, and transparent. Voters elected Arthur Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party as president with 36.4 percent of the vote. Mutharika defeated incumbent president Joyce Banda, marking the first time an incumbent party lost the presidency since the countrys first multiparty election in 1994. Presidential and vice presidential debates took place and were broadcast on radio and television for the first time, which provided voters a tool for evaluating and contrasting candidates and their policies. The 2014 elections also filled the positions of local councilors following a nine-year gap; the term of councilors elected in 2000 had expired in 2005.

Since 2014 the country has held several by-elections for vacated seats; the next tripartite elections are scheduled for May 2019, with political parties already actively campaigning. Media regularly reported that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) diverted state resources for partisan events. The DPP sometimes requisitioned national or local government vehicles to ferry supporters to partisan events. In 2017 representatives from several government-affiliated entities attended a DPP fundraising event held at the presidential palace, with their respective institutions paying the bill.

Malawi's president, Peter Mutharika, accepted the nomination of his ruling Democratic Progressive Party on 03 July 2018 to contest the 21 May 2019 elections, defying mounting corruption allegations and calls to resign. A leaked report from the country's elite Anti-Corruption Bureau accused Mutharika of receiving a $195 000 bribe from a contractor tasked with supplying $4m worth of rations to Malawi's police. He faced no formal charges.

Malawi's Vice President Saulosi Klaus Chilima put his hat in the ring for the 2019 presidential election against his incumbent Peter Mutharika, who is embroiled in a growing corruption scandal. The vice president broke ranks with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last month when he quit the party citing unchecked corruption and nepotism. "I am ready to contest," he said on 05 July 2018. "If we follow a process that is transparent and democratic, I will present myself as a candidate."

Former president Joyce Banda, who is seeking the nomination of her People's Party to take on Mutharika in polls in May, joined anti-government pressure groups and called for the president to resign. "When a president is not involved looting or shady deals he or she does not hesitate to instruct arrests of those involved... he should therefore respond to Malawians call to step down," she told AFP. Banda was implicated in a vast corruption scandal in 2013 which contributed to her defeat in polls a year later. She then went into self-imposed exile abroad before returning without any legal difficulties at the end of April 2018.

By September 2018 there were 10 people with albinism missing, their cases fueled by regional beliefs that their body parts bring wealth and good luck. Malawi, along with Tanzania, Mozambique and other southeastern African nations, often see an uptick in albino abductions during campaign and election seasons. With elections set for 2019, Malawi was already seeing tensions and isolated violence at rallies as well. The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), based in Blantyre, announced in June that six albino candidates will run for office in 2019, to dispel the myths and better protect people with the condition.

Malawis Electoral Commission has officially launched campaigning for May elections with calls against political violence. Political violence was on the rise in Malawi as the country prepared for May elections. The victims are mostly opposition party members beaten by suspected supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. Campaigning will run until May 19, just two days before Malawians cast their votes for lawmakers in the National Assembly and for the president. Voters will also cast ballots for local government representatives or councilors. The run-up to elections had been marred by concerns about political violence.

Malawians went to the polls 21 May 2019 in local, parliamentary and presidential elections. About 6.7 million Malawians were registered to vote. With just a few days to go, it remained difficult to predict the winner. Observers were unable to predict who will win the vote. Political analyst Sherrif Kaisi said the outcome depends on the rural areas, where more than 80 percent of Malawians live. This is because people in town, you can see even the numbers on those who registered, they are not much convincing numbers like those in the villages, Kaisi said.

The candidates were crisscrossing Malawi to woo voters in what many said are countrys most highly contested elections since the start of multiparty politics in 1993. Seven candidates were running for president, but the real battle is among incumbent President Peter Mutharika, Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima and main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera.

The opposition Malawi Congress Party wes determined to return to power since losing the 1994 elections. Some in the party, including its presidential candidate, Lazarus Chakwera, said nepotism is rampant in the current administration, a charge the government denies. Chakwera says if there is a leader in Malawi at the moment who can unite the whole country to stop the tendency toward nepotism and employ people based on ethnicity and regionalism, its me, Chakwera.

Vice President Chilima, who led the United Transformation Movement, or UTM party, said corruption forced him to break away from the ruling party. Multiple times during this campaign, he accused the governing party of planning to rig the polls; but now he says the voting is safe. He said there is no one who will rig this election. Those who registered should go to vote. And you should vote for UTM leaders for the country to develop. Vote wisely and without fear, he said.

President Mutharika told voters he will continue developing the country if he wins a second five-year term. He says his administration has so far constructed 94 bridges in different areas. He says this had never happened before in the countrys history but, We are doing that, he says. He added that the government will continue to do what it has been doing.





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