, BLANTYRE, May 21 – European Union observers have said Malawi’s fourth multi-party elections this week had "important shortcomings" which demonstrated the need for continued reform.
"During the the campaign period a number of problems exposed structural and regulatory weaknesses which need to be addressed so that Malawi can fully meet its commitments to international and regional standards for elections," the EU observers said in a preliminary report on Tuesday’s poll.
Luisa Morgantini, head of the 83-member team, read out the statement which praised "a well-managed election day" but slammed the use of state resources for President Bingu wa Mutharika’s campaign..
"The use of state resources for campaign purposes was overt during the whole of the campiagn period," the statement said.
"There was a blurring of the boundaries between the presidential office and campaigning that included the use of state-owned vehicles, public media, police and security services," it added.
The report said candidates of Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party enjoyed access to far greater financial resources.
The EU said Malawi lacks a clear legal provisions for funding of political parties and financing of election campaigns.
The European body also said the process of verifying the voter’s list exposed serious shortcomings in its accuracy, prompting a large-scale internal audit to make correctioons.
"This meant a large number of anomalies remained in the voter register," the report said.
Morgantini, vice president of the European parliament, said a final report would be published within two months.
The EU mission was the largest international observation mission in the Malawi poll.