A group of civil society organisations have added their weight to calls for amending the electoral law on electing a Head of State from the current first-past-the-post and adopt a 50 per cent plus one law to ensure that the winner of presidential elections enjoyed majority support.
The groups delivered a 100-day ultimatum to government calling for financial and electoral reforms.
Scores of concerned citizens gathered in Lilongwe to present a petition to Lilongwe City Assembly as the protesters also demanded a change in electoral laws ,
Soon after the 2014 elections—which were characterised by challenges including inadequate resources, late delivery of electoral materials at polling stations and delay in tallying of results—various stakeholders also called for reform of the country’s electoral laws.
One of the protest organisers, Gift Trapence, who is the executive director for the Centre of the Development of People, said they are demanding the speedy implementation of electoral laws that would require the elected president to get more than 50% of the votes cast.
Where in a general election there is no candidate who gather 50 percent, there should be a run off for the top two candidates to determine the winner.
“We have given them a hundred days to respond to our petition,” Trapence said.
Currently Malawi follows the “first past the post” principle, which enables a presidential candidate with fewer than 50% of the votes to win the elections.
President Peter Mutharika won the 2014 presidential elections with 36.4%.
“Malawians note that the circumstances around May 20 Tripartite elections clearly demonstrate inadequacy of the electoral laws to safeguard the right to vote, ‘legitimacy to govern’ or the upholding of the elections of a leader by the majority.
“Malawians are of the view that free, fair and credible elections cannot be achieved by the current state of laws and mechanisms of administering elections in Malawi. Malawians are hence concerned with government continued failure to act on or drive the electoral reform agenda including the proposed 50+1 electoral system as a matter of government’s priority,” reads the petition CSO’s presented.
The CSOs have recognised that 50 per cent plus one rule guarantees the leader acceptable, popular, majoritarian mandate.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Kondwani Nankhumwa said government supports discussions on the electoral reforms whose continuity has already been approved by President Mutharika.
Similar peaceful demonstrations also took place in northern city of Mzuzu and Karonga district in northern Malawi.
Public officers who received the petitions assured the protesters they would deliver them to the office of the president and Cabinet in time for action.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :