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Electoral calendar won’t be affected by Covid-19—Mec

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Voter’s registration ahead of July 2 2020 fresh presidential poll starts today, the electoral body has announced.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Media and Public Relations Director Sangwani Mwafulirwa has indicated that the registration will be done in four phases, two weeks long each.

The first phase will run to 17 April.

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The commission said the calendar will not change due to the first Covid-19 cases that the country has recorded.

“The electoral calendar has not been changed, so activities will be implemented as announced by the Malawi Electoral Commission,” Mwafulirwa said.

The electoral body, however, says it has taken into consideration all precautionary measures as recommended by the Ministry of Health.

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“Among other measures, there will be a bucket of water at each and every centre so that every person should wash hands. The workers will be provided with masks and hand sanitisers, who will be attending to a group of less than 100 people at a time,” he said.

Mec has urged everyone who did not register in the 2019 elections but is at least 18 years old and above or who will turn 18 by June 7 to register.

Mwafulirwa said the phase also presents a chance to any registered individual who would like to transfer to another voting centre.

He said those who registered in the 2019 elections “don’t need to register but they can go to the centre if they want to process a transfer”.

Meanwhile, Malawi Law Society (MLS) has called upon the legislative and the executive arms of government to consider consulting with relevant health experts to review the existing public health laws in the light of the current pandemic of coronavirus.

The call comes at a time when President Peter Mutharika confirmed of three cases of the virus in the country Thursday evening.

Through a statement issued Thursday signed by MLS Chairperson and Secretary Burton Mhango and Martha Kaukonde respectively, the society considers the issue a matter of national interest and as such requiring public safety and health for preservation of life.

“We call upon the Legislative and the Executive arms of the Government to consider consulting with relevant health experts and further consider a review of the existing public health laws in the light of the current pandemic and immediately generate, deliberate and pass and for the state President to assent to a legislative framework.

“Akin to the Corona Virus Act, 2020 of the United Kingdom or similar legal initiatives but suited to the current circumstances of the Republic of Malawi that would standardise and regulate conduct guaranteeing public health and protecting as well as lawfully managing other matters of public interest likely to be or already affected by the coronavirus and/or Covid-19 pandemic,” reads part of the statement.

MLS has also called upon the President to initiate a dialogue with other political leaders to unite the people of Malawi in the fight against the Covid-19.

The country is expected to hold fresh presidential poll following the nullification of the May 21 2019 presidential election results on February 3 this year by the Constitutional Court.

The court’s decision followed an application by Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera and UTM leader Saulos Chilima who challenged the results due to irregularities that marred the election process.

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