Private practice lawyer Tamanda Chokhotho hired by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said fresh presidential elections will proceed as ordered by the High Court but said there will be some shortcuts to ensure processes are done.
Chokhotho said MEC would respect the Constitutional Court ruling to hold the fresh presidential elections within 150 days from February 3 as the court directed following Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal dismissing MEC application for the court to stop electoral processes until the appeal case is heard.
“This means that the electoral process needs to be expedited. Let’s hope that all will end well. As the Supreme Court has said they will have to rework their calendar to fit in the period that has been ordered by the court,” said Chokhotho.
On her part, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah told delegates to the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting in Blantyre on Friday the electoral body is not ready to hold fresh presidential elections on May 19 2020 as proposed by Parliament.
Among others, Ansah told delegates from different political parties, civil society organisations, religious groups, academia, the commission’s registration kits can only work in six phases of 14 days each as set out by the law.
This means that the registration exercise can only take place in a minimum of 84 days while there are only 62 days before May 19.
“The law provides that registration will be done for a minimum of 14 days. Since that is the law, we cannot do otherwise but do the registration in 14 days but we have a limited number of equipment and that will allow us to have six phases,” said Ansah.
Ansah, who is also a Supreme Court of Appeal judge, said in the fresh election, MEC would use the existing laws that it used in 2019 meaning that it will use the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system to determine the winner and not 50 percent plus one vote rule as directed by the Constitutional Court.
This, she said, was because the bills that Parliament amended were yet to be assented to by President Peter Mutharika.
Further, Ansah said the 50 percent plus one rule will not be applicable because it was an interpretation of a lower court (High Court) arguing the Supreme Court of Appeal already ruled during the 1999 elections on what majority votes meant.
Said Ansah: “As we are today, the law that is applicable and the law that the commission can use to go ahead with fresh elections is the law that was there in 2019 because the amendments that were made to the electoral laws have not yet been assented to.
“There is also a Supreme Court interpretation of Section 80 (2) and according to practice, the Supreme Court Judgement is more binding than the High Court judgement. So the commission does not have a clear way forward on what law to apply and what should be done. [But] the law that is there today is the law which we will use.”
MEC’s request that fresh elections should be held in October was rejected by the court.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :