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Chief Justice against elections ‘courtroom drama’

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Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has urged newly appointed Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners to be serious when discharging their duties because election issues can build or break a nation.

He said courts did not take pride in issues that result in “courtroom drama”, saying what was needed was a strong minded, able and resilient commission.

Nyirenda said this in Lilongwe during the swearing-in of three new Mec commissioners; Richard Chapweteka, Caroline Mfune and Emmanuel Fabiano.

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One of the new commissioners, Francis Kasaila, did not take oath because he was outside the country on official duties.

He told the three commissioners that elections must express the will and the “inner voice of our people”.

“It should never come to be, as it has been the case in the nearest past, that our elections eventually followed the trail of protracted court trials.

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“It is never in the pride of the courts, it is never something that we look forward to, that elections turn out to be a courtroom drama. It was never meant to be,” Nyirenda said.

Fabiano said they would abide by precepts of the law.

“We have the law that guides the Malawi Electoral Commission itself, which we have to observe and follow. There is enough guidance in terms of how we should conduct our business,” he said.

The commissioners have been sworn-in after, on June 3 this year, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda nullified the appointment of four commissioners, citing irregularities in their appointment by former president Peter Mutharika.

The four commissioners were Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Steve Duwa and Arthur Nanthuru.

This was after Malawi Congress Party (MCP) sued the presidency for appointing the four commissioners from DPP, indicating that the MCP nominee [Chapweteka] was omitted to accommodate DPP’s four nominees.

The judge indicated that the commission was supposed to have three commissioners from DPP and the other three from MCP.

Out of the newly appointed commissioners, three are from DPP, meaning that the electoral body has three commissioners each from DPP and MCP.

On February 3 last year, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s decision to nullify results of the 2019 presidential election due to irregularities that marred the election process.

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