Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said the the 60-day official campaign for the fresh presidential election ordered by the constitution court, which annulled last year’s vote results because of irregularities, will be rolled out on May 2 to June 30 before polling on July 2.
The embattled electoral commission chairperson Jane Ansah told a news conference in Blantyre on Monday when MEC outlined its electoral calendar for the re-run.
She said during the official campaign period all contesting candidates and political parties shall be free to move around the country to sell themselves to the electorate.
Ansah, who is a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, also spelt out the need for presidetial hopefuls to abide by the code of conduct which they will sign.
“The Commission expects the candidates and their followers to adhere to the code of conduct for political parties and candidates which the candidates would have signed for,” Ansah said.
The MEC chairperson said the electoral body seeks to hold free, fair and credible elections and has the capacity to monitor all campaign activities, including ensuring “compliance” to candidates code of conduct
Ansah also said contesting candidates and political parties should be given an “equal opportunity to freely hold political campaigns” during the period to ensure a free, fair and credible election.
In previous elections, taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has come under fire for biased reporting against opposition political parties and candidates.
To boost their chances in the fresh elections, of the country’s two main opposition parties last week inked an electoral pact.
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM — which came second and third respectively in last year’s polls — signed an electoral alliance at a ceremony attended by thousands of supporters in the capital Lilongwe.
On his side, Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) earlier announced it has partnered with United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Atupele Muluzi who has been drafted in Cabinet with other three members of his party.
Though Malawi has not yet recorded any coronavirus case, there are fears the spreading virus could threaten the staging of the fresh elections.
“The successful implementation of the election calendar will be subject to the mitigation of the impact of the coronavirus including travel embargoes and shutdown of election materials production companies,” said Ansah.
In a landmark ruling on Feberuay 3, the Constitutional Court overturned the outcome of the 21 May 2019 election, which handed President Peter Mutharika a second term in office.
The court said the poll results were fraught with widespread irregularities – in particular the “massive” use of correction fluid on tally sheets.
It ordered the holding of fresh polls within 150 days, but Mutharika is appealing the court’s ruling.
The appeal will be heard in the Supreme Court starting 15 April.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :