The EU has approved the Malawian elections, despite the fact they were so flawed that the country’s President was forced to offer her resignation.
The EU’s Election Observer Mission (EOM) said the elections were free, fair and credible, even though Malawi’s own electoral commission has now twice told the Malawian people that the elections have been profoundly compromised.
After the irregularities came to light, President Joyce Banda offered her resignation in exchange for fresh elections in order for the true will of the people to prevail.
As the unofficial results began to be released last week on local and social media, it became immediately clear that electoral fraud on a grand scale was taking place orchestrated by party political zealots.
In the country’s eastern region for example, one constituency, Machinga North East, is alleged that out of a possible 38,000 registered voters, over 180,000 thousand votes were cast. In another constituency, Dowa West, out of 77,000 thousand registered voters, 1,100 votes had been cast, representing a voter apathy of 98 percent.
At the time of writing, these irregularities had been found to have taken place in 45 constituencies (out of a total 193 constituencies), representing over 20% of the Malawian electorate, with a total of 279 complaints lodged from various stakeholders.
It remains unclear who is responsible for these irregularities. However, several major parties in the country have formed a de facto alliance together with the President demanding an audit to be conducted. Whilst the Electoral Commission agrees, this process has faced several legal setbacks as one Party has mounted a suspicious challenge to prevent the Electoral Commission from probing the matter.
Roughly half a dozen injunctions have now been sought by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Peter Mutharika, legally barring the Electoral Commission from opening their own ballot boxes in order to verify the initial vote tally. As the DPP sought these injunctions, whispers began to do the rounds with allegations of the Party being responsible for the now evident electoral fraud.
And yet, against the background of this very tense situation, with all the evidence proving fraud readily available, the European Union’s Election Observer Mission (EOM) have branded the bogus election; free, fair and credible.
Veronique de Keyser, Chief Observer of the EOM, who herself is an MEP from the Belgian Socialist Party told journalists last Thursday that she felt the Electoral Commission had acted impartially and that the election had been handled professionally.
Ironically, the EOM is a signatory of the ‘Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation’ which states that “genuine democratic elections are an expression of sovereignty, which belongs to the people of a country, the free expression of whose will provides the basis for the authority and legitimacy of government.”
The consequences of the statement that de Keyser made is that the otherwise dubious elections have been presented to the international community as being up to standard.
And as a team of 80 strong observers failed to detect blatant irregularities such as these, questions will now arise as to whether or not they are able to rise up to the principles they are signed up to.
It is also unclear how much the EOM is costing European taxpayers as figures are kept under wraps from the public. However, it is estimated by some experts in the field to be somewhere in the 7-figure range.
Being an elected politician herself, de Keyser should ask herself a soul searching question. Would she tolerate the appalling standard she is subjecting the Malawian people to if it were the elections in which she herself contests in for the European Parliament?
And as the argument for the future of the European Union rages on, people of Europe are now struck with yet another colossal waste of their tax money. Meanwhile, the aspirations of the Malawian people to self-determination, it seems, shall remain just that; an aspiration.