Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara on Tuesday temporarily suspended Parliament proceedings after after Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders, Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence walked in the august house in Lilongwe.
Deputy leader of the house Martha Chanjo Mhone moved a motion to suspend the House for the business committee to meet as they felt threatened by the HRDC crew who have announced they will from hold vigils at parliament building in Lilongwe to force the legislators pass the Constitutional Court ordered electoral reforms laws.
Government benches hurled insults at HRDC officials describing them as a bunch of “terrorists while the opposition legislators praised the activists .
Standing on a point of order, Dowa East member of Parliament (MP) Richard Chimwendo Banda (Malawi Congress Party), said there was nothing wrong for human rights activists to view proceedings in parliament from the public gallery.
But the Speaker put a question to the House on the motion to suspend proceedings which the “the ayes have it” was announced that the affirmative votes were in the majority.
The Speaker suspended the House for Business Committee to meet.
The HRDC leadership went to the Chamber after alleging that some members of parliament have received money from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to frustrate the passing of the Electoral Reforms Bills, including the 50-plus-one provision in choosing the country’s President, into law.
Among others, the February 3 2020 Constitutional Court ruling says the Republican Constitution provides for the 50+1 election system and ordered parliament to pass relevant laws.
“Malawians should stand up to force their parliamentarians pass these important laws,” said Mtambo.
Mtambo however could not give evidence that the DPP has bribed the legislators to frustrate the passing of the bills into law.
The coalition leader left Parliament to allow the MPs resume their proceedings.
Earlier, Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa said the House would waive its standing orders to table the bills in compliance with the Constitutional Court order on the electoral reforms.
The five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court tasked Parliament to facilitate the review of the laws. The House tasked its Legal Affairs Committee and the Public Appointments Committee on some assignments.
Parliament hired retired Justice of Appeal judge Elton Mawina Singini and lawyers Allan Chinula and Arthur Nanthuru to draft the electoral bills with funding from USAID.
The Constitutional Court tasked Parliament to take appropriate legislative measures to ensure that:
- The significance of the certainty which is brought by the fixing of the date of the general election under Section 67 (1) of the Constitution is preserved; and
- Whoever is elected President of the Republic during the fresh election is allowed to serve the constitutionally prescribed five-year term.
- The Public Appointments Committee of the National Assembly should, in terms of Section 75 (4) of the Constitution, inquire into the capacity and competence of the Electoral Commission’s current commissioners, to oversee the conduct of the fresh elections;
- Parliament should take necessary amendment action in respect of Section 75 (1) of the Constitution so that the appointing authority of the chairperson of the Electoral Commission is clearly provided for; and that;
- • Parliament must, within 21 days from the date of the ruling, make appropriate provisions for the holding of the presidential run-off in the event that no single candidate secures the constitutional majority under Section 80 (2) of the Constitution as interpreted by the court.
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