President Peter Mutharika decision to refuse to ratify four election-related bills to pave the way to fresh presidential polls after his re-election last May was annulled over irregularities is lawful, according to Sunduzwayo Madise, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi.
Madise, who is also commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), states that the law gives the President the power to either assent or withhold his assent.
He said if the President withholds his assent, he must give reasons and forward them to the Speaker.
“Parliament can then debate the Bills again, if it desires, but can only do so after 21 days.
“If Parliament does not pass the Bills, then that’s it, the Bills are dead [for now]
If Parliament passes the Bills after debating [again], then once they are presented to the President, he has no option but to assent to them,” Madise explained.
The law scholar said one cannot challenge the President’s withholding of assent if it has been done in compliance with the Constitution.
“Such withholding of assent may have political overtures, but it is lawful,” said Madise citing Section 73 of the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court last month ordered officials to hold fresh presidential elections within 150 days, but the bills for doing so require Mutharika’s assent.
Presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani who was dispatched to announce the president’s decision at a news conference, said Mutharika’s opinion is that most of the provisions being proposed are” in sharp contradiction with Malawi’s constitutional order.”
“Any law or amendment to the law that is inconsistent with the constitution shall be invalid,” he added.
The proposed amendments requested a more than 50 percent majority to secure a second term — a major sticking point for Mutharika, who was declared winner with just 35.8 percent of the vote.
Mutharika has filed an appeal against the court’s annulment of the results and refused to fire members of Malawi Electoral Commission, as recommended by parliament.
Malawi’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on Mutharika’s appeal in April.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :