Needs assessment mission:
A NAM was deployed to the Republic of Malawi from 28 to 31 May 2013, to assess the capacity of civil society organisations– with a particular focus on the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN). The Mission consulted 17 interlocutors drawn from a range of sectors including media, political parties, CSOs and the Electoral Commission. The Mission made the following findings: Malawi is less than a year away from its next elections, which are planned to be its first tripartite elections . Malawians will go to the polls to elect the President, Members of Parliament and Local Government Authorities in 20 May 2014. These elections will be held in a political context largely shaped by the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012 and the change of government that took place thereafter. There are indications that the 2014 will be keenly contested considering the fact that the new ruling party will be involved in an election for the first time and former ruling parties consider these elections as their opportunity to return to power. While Malawi does not have a long history of ERV, there are indicators of possible outbreak of violence in the 2014 elections going by the skirmishes there were recorded during the recent by-elections conducted. The events of July 2012 when anti-regime protests went violent could also be pointers to possible outbreak of violence in 2014.
MESN is composed of other coalitions that are focused on key thematic areas in the electoral process. There is a comprehensive Election Dispute Resolution (EDR) mechanism that takes in to account the formal systems of resolution through the Electoral Commission and the Courts and an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system through the Multi-Party Liaison Committees (MPLCs). CSOs are involved in these Committees. CSOs in Malawi have capacity in civic and voter registration (CVE), advocacy and election observation. There is a considerable capacity gap in the areas of research and documentation and election conflict mediation. A number of CSOs and staff of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) have undergone BRIDGE TtF and Modular trainings on observation and CVE. Most of the CSOs consulted do not have functional and updated websites to clearly document their achievements and increase the impact of their initiatives. PEV-SADC is very relevant in the Malawian context because the country is less than a year away from its next elections that will be held in May 2014. CSOs specifically look forward to sharpening their capacity to address ERV, conduct Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) and observe the elections.
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