The High Court in Blantyre on Thursday moved to May 24th the case in which lawyer Ambokire Salimu wants Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to influence electoral law reform that would ensure elected public officers are bound by their campaign promises.
Salimu, in an individual capacity, filed for Leave for Judicial Review to push for Mec to refer Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, Political Parties Act and Local Government Elections
Act to the Law Commission for review to incorporate a provision that specifically demands public officers elected through universal suffrage to be legally bound by promises they make to voters.
According to the Constitution, the authority to govern the country derives from the people of Malawi; surprisingly, there is no clause in the country’s electoral laws that place any direct legal obligation on those seeking public office through ballot to fulfill promises they make to electorate during campaign period.
If granted, the court, based on Salimu’s application, is expected to issue an ex-parte Order of interlocutory Injunction, restraining Mec from conducting elections in the country until the outcome of the Judicial Review.
The case failed start on Thursday as presiding Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda was reportedly busy with other cases.
Nyirenda then moved the case to May 24.
”The judge communicated the day before (Wednesday) that his other case that he would hear in the morning would go on into the afternoon and he had to visit a scene of the accident in Ntcheu,” explained Salimu in an interview.
Meanwhile, Salimu has made amendment to the reliefs he is seeking, and now he is also seeking a declaration that elections conducted under the current electoral law construct are inconsistent with Section 6 of the Constitution.
Salimu told Nyasa Times recently that he decided to take the bold step and push for electoral law reform, arguing as a Malawian citizen he is directly affected by the ‘status quo he seeks to reverse’.
The private practice lawyer argued that those who seek public office through elections do
so, on the basis of express promises made to the people, including himself, and yet there is no statutory provision that binds them to deliver on such premises.
“As a voter and citizen of Malawi, I give the holders of public office through elections their legal validation. It is a legitimate expectation that these public officers shall deliver on their campaign promises,” he argued.
He said it was incumbent on the electoral commission to initiate such electoral law reform that would uphold the constitutional prescription.
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