The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has suspended all electoral processes leading to the July 2 2020 fresh presidential polls due to the impending lockdown which was announced by President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday night.
Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah said the Commission is currently proceeding with retrieval of staff and electoral materials which were being used during the phase one of voter registration which was scheduled to end on Friday, April 17.
In a statement released Wednesday, Ansah said the decision to suspend the elections has come in view of the 21-day lockdown imposed by the government to stop further spread of Covid-19 pandemic. “The Commission has considered the impact of the 21 day lockdown and additional measures declared by the Minister of Health on 14th April to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
In relations to the electoral process leading to the holding of fresh presidential polls on July 2, 2020, we would like to advise that we have decided to suspend voter registration. As an immediate measure, the Commission has also resolved to suspend all other electoral activities due to the 21-day lockdown,” Ansah says in a statement.
She said the Commission will close the voter registration for the first phase on Thursday, a day before its scheduled completion day to allow retrieval process to take place before the lockdown on Saturday.
However, Ansah said the decision to suspend the elections is subject to general directions and orders that may be issued by the Supreme Court of Appeal in relation to the Constitutional Court ruling which ordered the Commission to hold fresh presidential polls within 150 days from February 3 2020.
Meanwhile, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and its alliance partners, UTM say the suspension of the elections by Mec is against the wishes of Malawians who want to duly elect their a president. MCP Publicity Secretary Maurice Munthali said Mec seems to be acting on instructions of other parties considering that the Commission is aware that it does not have the mandate to suspend the elections.
Munthali said MCP and its alliance partners will meet soon to make a decision on how to challenge the decision by Mec. “Let Mec not give us the suspicion that all this is a planned ploy with its bedfellows to delay the elections. But what they should know is that Malawians want change. They can delay the people’s choice but they cannot deny what Malawians want in this country,” he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said he was coming out of a meeting such that he needed time to consult senior party members before giving the position of the Party regarding the suspension of the elections by MEC. UTM Publicity Secretary Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said the events leading to the suspension of the electoral process are suspicious.
“First they sent thugs to disrupt the voter registration process in Blantyre. After that they announced a lockdown during the night and the following day they are suspending the elections.
This is suspicious and we will get to the bottom of it shortly,” said Chidanti- Malunga. He said UTM will challenge the decision in court.