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Lazarus Chakwera speaks on election bills

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, Lazarus Chakwera, Thursday said he expects the government will live by its promise and table the Electoral Reforms Bills in the first meeting of the 47th session of Parliament which President Peter Mutharika is expected to officially open Friday.

Chakwera’s remarks follow revelations that Cabinet has not yet met to discuss the bills, a process which technically makes them ready for tabling in the august House.

Without Cabinet discussing the proposed bills ahead of the lawmakers’ meeting which starts Friday, it is unlikely that the would-be laws will be tabled and passed any time soon.

Still, Chakwera does not want to accept that the bills will not be passed, arguing that government would not have any excuse as even Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu committed that the bills would be tabled.

Chakwera, who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, was responding to a question on his take on revelations that the bills are not ready.

While not disclosing what the opposition side of the House will do if government does not present the bills, Chakwera said the would-be laws are for the efficient management of elections; hence, no one should stifle them.

“The whole world was told, the whole country was told, by an honourable minister that the bills on the electoral reforms would be presented in the meeting beginning this month. We expect that they will live by their own promise, unless they want to tell Malawians that they should not be trusted anymore,” he said.

Addressing his party’s supporters earlier at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe, Chakwera appealed for unity to reign in the party.

He further expressed concern over massive voter apathy which was registered during the October 17 by-elections where MCP won all the Parliamentary seats and two of the three wards.

“Let us all cast our votes during the [2019] elections. All the loopholes have been sealed and no one will rig the election; so, your votes will count,” Chakwera said.

Among others, the Electoral Reforms Bills— which contain several recommendations by different stakeholders including international observers— are expected to make new provisions including that one should only be declared president after scooping more than 50 percent of the total votes cast.

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