Malawi parties, aspirants risk disqualification in 2014 elections

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has warned it will bar any political party and aspirants in next year’s tripartite elections if they violate the newly revised electoral code of conduct in their acts.

MEC last week launched the revised electoral code of conduct for political parties and candidates to guide them once campaign kicks off as one way of achieving free, fair and credible tripartite elections next year.

The electoral body involved all political parties in the country, civil society and religious leaders to review the code of conduct, which MEC used during the 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Rev Chinkwita Phiri, Chairperson of Electoral Services Committee at MEC, said the new code of conduct would regulate political leaders and prevent them from violating, initiating hate speeches or making threats to each other in the run up to the polls.

Chinkwita: Third phase of registration
Chinkwita: Know the rules of the game

He said any party or candidate acting contrary to the conduct will be nullified to contest in next year’s elections.

“It is very critical for the conduct of the tripartite elections particularly when political parties and candidates go campaigning. They need to know the rules of the game and we have to agree on them so that when we tell them they are violating the code of conduct they should agree with it,” he explained.

In addition, Rev Phiri said, MEC would be setting up a conflict resolution body at national level and the same code of conduct will be used whenever conflicts arise.

He said the code of conduct would specify steps the commission will follow such as nullification of candidates in certain cases.

“We want to make sure that certain things are pretty clear that they are violations of the electoral laws. For instance, there have been reports recently of people buying voters IDs, that is one clear infringement of the electoral law

The reverend then advised political parties to refrain from the hate speeches as they promote violence among the electorates.

Political parties appealed to MEC to ensure it fully enforces the new code of conduct so that political party leaders do not engage in hate speeches and character assassination.

And speaking during the launch of the new code of conduct last week, MEC Chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera said everyone had a responsibility of creating a conducive climate to free and fair elections.

He said Malawi was coming from a past in which intolerance orchestrated by political parties saw many people being casualties of political violence.

“Many victims were young people and their families and relatives also suffered varying degrees of harassment and direct physical harm,” he said.

The electoral code, which was prescribed under Section 61(2) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections (PPE) Act number 31 of 1993 and under Section 45 of the Local Government Elections Act number 24 of 1996, needs to be reviewed after every five years to reflect on and to respond to new realities on the ground.

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