Malawi electoral stakeholders await AG to act on new recommendations

Electoral stakeholders in Malawi have finalized making recommendations that seek to harmonize the country’s electoral laws so that they should be in tandem with tripartite elections the country is expected to hold in 2014.

The Malawi Electoral Commission’s commissioner, Nancy Tembo says if approved the recommendations which have already been presented to the office of the Attorney General (AG) will help smoothen the holding of the polls next year.

Tembo says the recommendations were made during a recent meeting with a task force comprising representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Law Commission, Media Institute for Southern Africa (Malawi Chapter), Malawi Electoral Commission, Malawi Electoral Support Network and Public Accounts Committee.

“The aim was to isolate the provisions that were contradicting each other and make proposals that will help the country conduct the tripartite elections efficiently,” says Tembo.

Tembo: What is remaining is for AG to draft bill

Tembo says what is remaining now is for the attorney general’s office to  draft a bill which is expected to be presented to the national assembly which starts sitting on February 8.

Meanwhile MEC has engaged in proposed ward demarcations exercise in various districts before coming up with final maps.

According to the Electoral Commission Amendment Bill of 2010 each constituency should have two wards except for the commercial city of Blantyre and capital  Lilongwe which can have not more than 30 wards, while the northern region’s city of Mzuzu  should have less than 15 with the country’s old capital  of Zomba below 10 wards.

But the Commission will maintain the 193 constituencies the country has had since 2004, citing time and logistical demands as deterrents.

Members of parliament in Malawi passed a Tripartite Elections Bill during the last parliamentary sitting that allows the country to hold the three-tier elections.

However the parliament is yet to amend other electoral laws in the Local Government Elections Act so that they are harmonized with the Presidential and the Parliamentary Elections Act.

The laws include those to do with dates for conducting the local government elections, the tenure of office for councilors, a qualified voter, campaigning, observers, offences and penalties.

This will be the first  tripartite elections for the country. Presidential and parliamentary elections were last held in 2004 while local government elections were last held in 2000.

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