Blantyre ,Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Tuesday briefed the Lilongwe Multi-Party Liaison Committee (MPLC) and other electoral stakeholders as regards issues surrounding the impending Lilongwe City South East by elections.
The briefing follows two petitions which MEC received from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and from women who are calling themselves “Mbadwa Zeni Zeni za Lilongwe City South East Constituency.”
In a statement released on April 10, 2017, Chairperson of MEC,Justice Jane Ansah said the women in their petition are claiming that MEC has rushed to announce the call for a re-run without informing the electorate what happened.
She said the women want the by-elections not to go ahead as planned and have even doubts if the by-elections will be free and fair if held now.
“They cast doubts that the registration process would be infiltrated by outsiders, the group vividly calls for the cancellation of the re-run since the area still has their MP who is alive,” Ansah explained.
On the other hand according to MEC chairperson, Malawi Congress Party is against the resolution by the Commission to open up the contest to old and new candidates.
“The party postulates that the re-run should be between Ulemu Msungama and Bently Namasasu who were the parties involved in the court case. The party argues that since all other 2014 contestants did not participate in the court case, it meant they were satisfied with the declared results,” she added.
Ansah recalled on March 6, 2017 that the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal sitting in Lilongwe ruled that there should be a re-run in Lilongwe City South East Constituency; the matter was litigated by Mr. Ulemu Msungama who represented the Malawi Congress Party in the constituency during the 2014 elections.
“MEC had declared Mr. Bentley Namasasu of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate as a winner with 10, 954 votes against Mr Msungama’s 10, 856 votes. Mr Msungama filed a petition in the High Court seeking the nullification of the poll for alleged irregularities,” Ansah highlighted.
She said on June 26, 2014, it was agreed between MEC and Mr. Msungama that irregularities could be sufficiently resolved through a recount of the votes in the three polling stations which were contested.
“A consent order was obtained and MEC went ahead to inform Mr. Namasasu to send his monitors for the exercise. Mr Namasasu sought an injunction against the recount and joined the court case as an interested party,” MEC Chairperson elaborated.
According to Ansah, before the stay order was challenged, the warehouse, where the ballot boxes were kept, caught fire which rendered the re-count exercise impossible.
She said the main focus for the brief is to have an understanding on how the by-elections should be conducted to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
MEC announced that it will conduct fresh by-elections in Lilongwe City South East in line with the court ruling that nullified the 2014 results.
Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA