LILONGWE, March 13 (Xinhua) — The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has expressed concerns that the heavy rains and floods that have affected hundreds of thousands of people in the country may also affect preparations for the May 21 presidential elections.
The latest statistics from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs show that 45 people have died while 577 people have been injured and two people are reported missing.
Nearly 148,000 households have been affected, including 15,000 households that have been completely displaced, due to the heavy rains and floods the country experienced last week.
In a statement released Tuesday signed by Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika, the MEC said the rains have so far disrupted some of its operations for the May 21 elections.
“The MEC wishes to extend its deepest sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones and all people affected by floods occurring across the country; being an election period, the operations of the Commission were also affected,” the statement said.
It added that “the Commission failed to conduct ballot paper vetting exercises in Mwanza, Chikwawa and Nsanje because candidates could not manage to travel from their various places to the council offices.”
The electoral body said it has had to reschedule the dates for the vetting exercise in these regions considering that the floods have displaced many people, damaged houses and some people have lost their voter certificates during the disaster.
However, the Commission has assured all eligible voters that they will be able to vote without a voter certificate as long as they have registered as voters.
“The Commission will also be working closely with all councils to establish whether infrastructures designated as voting centers have been damaged by the floods and where this has occurred, the Commission will provide tents for shelter during voting,” said the statement.
The MEC has also assured people that it is also fully aware of the challenges due to rainfall in some districts during the polling and is planning for all scenarios regarding distribution of polling materials.
A low pressure system moved into southern Malawi on Friday, bringing continuous widespread rains accompanied by strong winds and causing severe flooding.