State House has confirmed as earlier reported by Nyasa Times that President Peter Mutharika has refused to assent to the electoral reforms bills passed in Parliament in February this year which technically means the presidential fresh elections slated for May 19 2020 will have to be rescheduled.
Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani told a news conference in Blantyre that the President is duty bound to critically scrutiinse each provision in the bills and check if there is conflict with the constitution or other laws.
He said Mutharika has also refused to sign the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament’s recommendations to fire Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners.
Kalilani said the commissioners were not given time to prepare for the meeting with the committee and were not given a chance to bring their lawyers.
He said Mutharika finds PAC’s recommendation fatuous and “laughable” considering thatthe committee find the commission competent in the parliamentary and local government elections and incompetent in presidential vote.
Parliament in February passed the electoral reforms bills, which paves the way for fresh elections after on February 3, the High Court sitting in Lilongwe as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) annulled the presidential election, saying they were marred by a plethora of irregularities, which saw Mutharika re-elected.
The court therefore ordered Parliament to make provisions for holding of fresh presidential election within 150 days.
Parliament passed the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Amendment Bill which has set fresh elections to be held on May 19. The Bill also provides for the holding a run-off election 30 days later if no candidate gets 50%+1 of the votes cast.
“His Excellency the President has witheld his assent for all the bills,” said Kalilani, saying the bills “does not meet the test of constitutionality.”
Since the President has refused to assent to the bills, Kalilani said bills will be taken back to parliament after 21 days.
A prominent legal scholar Dr Mwiza Nkhata explains that where the President withholds assent to a Bill, it must be returned to the Speaker of the National Assembly with a notification that Presidential assent has been withheld, including the reasons for the withholding of the assent.
He said such a Bill must not be debated again until after the expiration of 21 days from the date of the notification of the withholding of the assent.
Nkhata said according to the laws, if such a Bill is subsequently debated again after the expiration of the 21 days but before the expiration of three months and passed by the majority of the National Assembly, it must again be presented to the President for assent.
“This time the President must assent to the Bill within 21 days of its presentation. All Bills that have been passed must be immediately published in the Gazette. No law made by Parliament can come into force until it has been published in the Gazette.(S.74 of the Constitution). Parliament, however, may prescribe that a law shall not come into force until a later date in spite of its publication in the Gazette. In such a situation, the law will ordinarily come into force upon the publication of a ministerial notice appointing the date for its coming into force in the Gazette,” he states.
In the meantime, the date of fresh elections will change from May 19 2020 to a later date as Nyasa Times earlier reported.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :