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By-election draws mixed reactions

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Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) launch of parliamentary by-election in Lilongwe South Constituency Sunday attracted mixed reactions from participants of the polls scheduled for November 5 2019.

While Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Peter Dimba and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) challenger Frank Mazizi welcomed the idea to hold the elections now, UTM deputy director of elections, Bright Kawaga, said Mec cannot be trusted to hold the polls as the May 21 tripartite elections, were according to him, marred by irregularities.

The by-election in Lilongwe South follows the death of Agnes Penemulungu before she competed in the May 21 parliamentary election.

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The late Penemulungu, who in June 2013 resigned from then governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was at the time of her death UTM parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

Mec Chaiperson, Jane Ansah, was not in attendance but Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika and commissioner, Moffat Banda, witnessed the ceremony in Lilongwe.

During question time, Kawaga said considering how the May elections were handled, people have lost trust in Mec.

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“How can we trust that Mec is going to handle the elections fairly when the tripartite elections did not go well?” he asked.

But Moffat Banda has assured Malawians that the parliamentary elections in Lilongwe would be free and fair.

“You have seen the reaction from the constituents here. They want these elections. Those people in doubt are not from here; they just came from elsewhere. Why not leave the court proceedings aside and concentrate on our job? People here have suffered for five months without an MP,’” he said.

Dimba said he had told his constituents to avoid acts of violence during the campaign period from October 19 to November 3.

Mec will receive nomination papers on October 16.

Mazizi said even though the current situation was volatile, people in the area want to have representation in Parliament.

“We are glad that Mec has declared that people of this constituency should vote on November 5. We understand the current situation is unstable but people of this constituency need representation in Parliament,” he said.

According to Mec, results of the by-elections will be announced on November 6 2019.

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