Malawi delays bill to unify electoral laws

The Electoral Harmonization Bill has been differed to next session of Parliament as government reveals it has not yet finalized drafting the bill in readiness for next year’s tripartite elections.

Parliament, during recent Mid-Year Budget Review meeting, failed to deliberate and endorse the bill, which seeks to harmonize Parliamentary and Presidential Elections, and Local Government Elections Acts, into one law.

Leader of government business Henry Phoya disclosed in an interview with Nyasa Times, the office of the Attorney General (AG) was still working on the bill.

“They are still working on it and it will be tabled in Parliament during National Budget meeting in June,” Phoya said.

Kamanga: Draft bill is ready
Kamanga: Draft bill is ready

And the Attorney General (AG) Anthony Kamanga disclosed the draft bill was finished and sent to relevant stakeholders including Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) for scrutiny before submitted to Cabinet Committee.

“The draft bill is in the process of been submitted to Cabinet Committee and surely come June it will be endorsed into law,” he said.

Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) while hinting the delay to pass the Electoral Harmonization Bill could affect the electoral system, said would have consultations with Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) on the matter.

he Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn)   spokesperson Steven Duwa said if the bills remain the same 2014 Tripartite Elections will be problematic.

Duwa said: “This is a serious issue and we have to consult Mec on way forward before we take a stand on the issue. The delay can obviously affect the elections’ preparations”.

But, Phoya, who was disappointed that most business was left unattended during the just ended session, said government would ensure the delay does not jeopardize the electoral calendar.

”We will ensure that we are on schedule to table the bill in June inorder not to compromise the tripartite elections. There are two bills, one on the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections and the other one on Local Government Elections and will both be ready by June,” he said.

Mesn, Malawi Law Society (MLS) and other stakeholders recently doubted Malawi’s readiness to hold the tripartite elections in May 2014 because of lack of preparations.

Duwa said the delay  to harmonise all electoral laws “gives room for electoral flaws that render the elections not to be free and fair.”

Malawi’s bilateral partners have also urged government to take board stand on tripartite elections, saying they are complex and require adequate preparation.

The business committee had set on agenda 18 bills including the Electoral Harmonization Bill to be tabled but the 44th Parliamentary session only manage to pass the Gender Equality Bill and the Water Resources Bill out of the 18.

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