A human rights lawyer has blamed the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for abruptly postponing the Lilongwe south constituency by-election due to violence without consulting stakeholders.
Law expert Chrispine Sibande said although the pollster has the legal mandate to postpone an election anytime, anywhere and anyhow, it would have consulted all the stakeholders including the candidates and the political parties who invested in the election.
“When making such decisions, they should have considered the people involved in the election, failing to consult such people is unfair,” said Sibande.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) parliamentary candidate in the poll Peter Dimba said he would take MEC to court “so that it should stop taking people for granted.”
He said: “The isolated incident of violence that happened last Friday was provoked by DPP candidate who was committing a criminal offence of vote buying by getting voters’ ID cards and promising them loans in return. That incident does not warrant cancellation of the by-elections three days away from the closure of campaign period. We will definitely seek legal redress.”
Sibande also said electoral stakeholders have lost trust in MEC and asked the pollster chairperson Jane Ansah to resign to restore its credibility.
“If she resigns, she will not be the first person to do so…she is not the only judge in the country, there is no reason why she is still clinging to the office,” said Sibande.
But spokesperson for MEC Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the decision to postpone the poll was done legally to protect people’s lives and property after four houses were burnt and some MEC staff including commissioners were harassed in the area.
He said a free, fair and credible election could not have been delivered in the hostile and volatile environment.
Mwafulirwa dismissed reports that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) influenced the pollster to postpone the election after sensing loss, saying MEC is an independent body which makes independent decisions without any political influence or pressure.
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi and the party’s candidate Frank Mazizi welcomed the decision, saying it is overdue as Lilongwe South became a dangerous zone.
Dausi, who is also Minister of Homeland Security, said: “The terrible violence that is happening in Lilongwe is unbearable. In the meantime, prevention is better than cure. When going to Lilongwe South it is like going to a war zone.”
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), MCP and UTM Party also previously asked MEC not to proceed with the by-elections.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :