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May 19 proposed for fresh elections

The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has reportedly proposed that the fresh presidential election, which the Constitutional Court ordered after nullifying the May 21 2019 presidential polls results, be held on May 19 2020.

The committee’s members are meeting in Salima District to draft and discuss The Constitution Amendment Bill and the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill to enable the fresh election and possible run-off election in the event that no candidate gets the 50%+1 votes.

The committee’s chairperson, Kezzie Msukwa, said the committee is meeting to sort out the constitutional gaps which the court asked Parliament to fill ahead of the fresh election.

Msukwa said the committee should be done working on the bills today so that the bills are tabled in Parliament either Tuesday or Wednesday.

He did not specify the bills they have tabled but The Daily Times has seen copies of some of them.

“Pursuant to the nullification by the High Court of the election of the President in the poll held on May 21 [2019], the resultant fresh election of the President shall be held on the third Tuesday of May, 2020.

The next General Election, as prescribed under Section 67 (1), will be held on the third Tuesday of May 2025,” reads Section 80 of the Constitution Amendment Bill.

This, therefore, means that this term of Members of Parliament will run for six years instead of five as the legislators have been in the office since May 2019.

The Constitution Amendment Bill and the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill follow a court order on February 3 2020 which nullified the presidential election results for the May 21 2019 polls.

The court also ordered that the next presidential election should follow 50%+1 electoral system and not the first past the post which the country has been using in the past elections.

Legal expert Sunduzwayo Madise Sunday said he hopes that the legislators will pass the bills ahead of the presidential election.

“If the MPs do not discuss the bills, they will be held in contempt of the court but if they discuss but reject them, they cannot be held in contempt yet but there will be a constitutional crisis. In the event that no candidate gets 50%+1 of the votes and there is no law governing runoff election, then the status quo will continue against the will of Malawians,” he said.

In nullifying the May 21 presidential election results, panel of the five High Court judges who made the Constitutional Court tasked Parliament with coming up of the legislation for the enforcement of the 50%+1.

Last week, Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani- Hara, told the press that they would comply with the court order and deliberate within the given 21 days from the date of the ruling issues regarding bills on fresh election.

The court also ordered Parliament to scrutinise the competence of Malawi Electoral Commission commissioners to handle the fresh election. Parliament assessed the most of the commissioners last week and a report will be released soon.

The court’s decision following petitions from Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima who finished on second and third places in the disputed May 21 2019 presidential race after chalking 35 percent and 20 percent respectively against 38 percent for Mutharika.

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