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Malawi Law Society warns government on by-elections

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THE Malawi Law Society (MLS) has warned that government and other public officers risk violating the Constitution if they fail to provide funds for by-elections in Lilongwe.

The Malawi Constitution provides that a parliamentary seat be filled within 60 days (two months) from the day it was declared vacant.

However, Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec), Justice Jane Ansah, announced last week that Mec has no funds for the elections despite indicating earlier that the polls would be held on June 6.

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MLS President, Khumbo Soko, acknowledged, in an interview yesterday, that no one can force Mec to conduct the elections when it has no funds.

He, however, said it is the duty of the leaders in government to provide funds for the elections so that Mec conducts the polls within 60 days as stipulated in the Constitution.

“In this case, the court ruled that people should vote again in Lilongwe South East Constituency within 60 days. In actual sense, if elections are not held within this period as stipulated in the Constitution, then the supreme law has been violated and that is negative because we have government leaders who have the obligation to ensure that funds are available at Mec to conduct the elections,” Soko said.

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He also warned that if leaders who took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution fail to provide funds for the polls in time, they are violating the supreme law.

“This is creating fear that if leaders can easily violate the Constitution in this way then they can see nothing wrong in violating the other minor laws which we have as a country. In this scenario, the requirement is that the government should provide funds in time for the by-elections,” he said.

Ansah said, when postponing the polls, that the elections would be held in August when they receive funding from the Treasury. “The elections have not been suspended. We have just postponed them because we have no money.

Currently, the Treasury has issued a press release that it has no funds for ministries and government departments including Mec. The Secretary to the Treasury said they will give us the money at the start of the new financial year that is in July and we will start preparations for the polls in August,” she said.

Mec is supposed to conduct by-elections in Lilongwe City South East, Lilongwe Msozi North, Mayani North Ward in Dedza and Mtsiliza Ward in Lilongwe.

Lilongwe City South East will go to the polls again following a Supreme Court of appeal ruling that declared vacant the parliamentary seat of Democratic Progressive Party’s Bentley Namasasu.

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