UTM declines to meet with EU’s May 21 elections observers


By Duncan Mlanjira

UTM Party President Saulos Klaus Chilima has declined to meet with the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM), which is expected to arrive in the country on Wednesday January 9 , saying the election report they are to present is ill timed.

The EU-EOM is expected to issue a fresh report on the May 21 tripartite elections but Chilima says he finds it most inappropriate that the Mission seeks to present a report on a matter that is before the High Court of Malawi and that a judgement is now pending and imminent.

Roche (centre) presenting his preliminary report
on May 23 last year

The country awaits the judgement of the Constitutional Court which gave 45 days from 21 December, 2019 to come up with a ruling.

In the letter to Acting EU Charge d’Affaires Bourdilleau, written on Tuesday, 7th January, Chilima said the mission intends to meet with him on Thursday, January 9.

“While I appreciate the European Union’s support and cooperation for the improvement of our election management system, the presentation is not only poorly timed but it also breaches the legal process under way in the Malawi courts.

Roche with some of his observers before being
dispatched to various areas

“I strongly object to the presentation of the report at this time. It must be obvious to both the Delegation and the Mission that comprehensive reports on the tripartite elections must be avoided in light of the litigation that has since ensued.

“The intended presentation of the report is ill-timed, careless and amounts to an extra-judicial gimmick to meddle with, and influence, pending litigation. I condemn this in the strongest terms.

“I decline the meeting with the Mission. Second, I request that the Mission calls off presentation of the report until judgment in the case I have referred to in this letter is handed down. 

Former SA President Thabo Mbeki led the
Commonwealth observers

“This is the only decent and reasonable thing to do. Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration,” said the letter.

EU-EOM Malawi’s Chief Observer Miroslav Poche presented his preliminary report on May 23 at Ryalls Hotel, two days after the elections and observed that the vote count was transparent but the conditions and poor lighting made the task harder. 

“Officials were inconsistent in how they managed the count, there was a lack of adherence to procedures and problems were encountered in completing results sheets. 

“Reports from constituency tally centres indicate that results are being processed but there are challenges due to the poorly completed results sheets. 

The EU EOM, which left behind some of its observers till the results announcement, had pledged continue to follow the process.