Malawi poll 'will be rigging-free'

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

Malawi’s electoral commission has begun distributing ballot materials to polling stations ahead of next Tuesday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

The materials will be moved from the capital, Lilongwe, to more than 5,000 polling stations across the country.

The commission says slightly more than six million people have registered for the vote. The process will use a mix of manual and electronic methods.

While the voting will be paper-based, the transmission and final tally of the ballots will be electronic.

This is the first time the country will use this system.

Commission chairperson Jane Ansah has told the BBC that the country is well prepared for the elections, which analysts say will be closely contested.

"We have been preparing for a while now and we can assure the country that we will be holding a credible process," she told the BBC.

She also addressed concerns raised by some politicians that the poll could be rigged.

"All we have heard so far are just words and no concrete proof. But we believe that the system we have put in place is foolproof and we expect the election to be rigging-free.”

Malawians go to the polls on 21 May to elect a president, parliamentarians and local councillors.

MCP supporters
Main opposition party MCP is providing a stiff challenge to President Mutharika

'Does this look like a dead man to you?'

Malawi's president tackles death rumours

President Mutharika on top of a police car

On the campaign trail, Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has addressed rumours of his death, the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza reports.

Speaking in Salima, central Malawi, on Wednesday he scoffed at those peddling the stories on social media.

Addressing crowds atop a podium mounted on a police car, Mr Mutharika asked: “Does this look like a dead man to you?"

Mutharika supporters

Malawians go to the polls in a general election next Tuesday.

The rumours of his passing followed last week’s abrupt cancellation of several campaign stops that had been planned across the country.

But on Wednesday hundreds met him in Salima as he campaigned for a second term in office.

He has promised to tackle poverty and build more schools across the country.

Mr Mutharika, who came to power in 2014, is facing a tough challenge from both Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is running for the United Transformation Movement (UTM) and the candidate for the Malawi Congress Party, Lazarus Chakwera.

Malawi’s presidential barber shop

Rob Wilson

BBC Focus on Africa radio

A presidential barber shop displaying portraits of the presidential candidates

Ogos Executive Barber Shop is in the centre of Mzuzu in northern Malawi.

With the country’s elections coming up, the hairdresser has added portraits of some of the main presidential candidates: Lazarus Chakwera, incumbent president Peter Mutharika, and Vice President turned opposition leader Saulos Chilima.

It appears they had also added former president Joyce Banda who was initially running, but she pulled out of the race earlier in the year, causing them to paint her out of the race on the barber shop wall.

Malawians won’t be waiting long to find out who will be making the cut as the election takes place on Tuesday 21 May.

Prince writes to soldier's family after elephant death

BBC Midlands Today

The Duke of Cambridge is writing to the family of a British soldier who was killed by an elephant during a counter-poaching operation in Malawi.

Mathew Talbot

Kensington Palace said Prince William wanted to pass on his condolences to the family of Mathew Talbot, 22, of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, who was from the West Midlands.

The patrol of armed British army soldiers and African Park Rangers was walking through tall grass - up to 7ft (2.1m) high - when they disturbed an unseen herd of elephants.

One of them charged at Gdsm Talbot. He died soon after from his injuries. No-one else on the patrol was hurt.

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