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MCP downplays Tonse Alliance symbol rejection

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Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has said it is not bothered by Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec)’s refusal to allow the Tonse Alliance to use a new fused symbol of the party and UTM in the forthcoming presidential election.

MCP wrote Mec requesting that it should be allowed to change the party’s symbol on the ballot papers from its traditional black cock to a new one that is mashed up with UTM’s symbol.

But in a letter signed by Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah, the commission says MCP presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera’s nomination papers indicate that he is being sponsored by MCP and that the commission will use MCP’s symbol on the ballot papers.

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Ansah says this in line with laws governing political parties and the presidential election.

“The Malawi Congress Party is a registered political party. The distinctive symbol of the party was submitted and approved by the Registrar of Political Parties under Section 12(2)(v) of the Political Parties Act.

“The commission has not been made aware of any change to this particular aspect as approved by the Registrar of Political Parties,” reads the letter in part.

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But MCP Secretary-General, Eisenhower Mkaka, said the rejection would not dissuade Tonse Alliance members from voting for Chakwera.

“Much as we would have loved to have the fused symbol to represent the Tonse Alliance on the ballot, we are fine with the commission’s decision. Tonse Alliance, led by Dr Lazarus Chakwera and his running mate Dr Saulos Chilima, is determined to win the forthcoming election with whatever symbol the commission will put on the ballot papers,” Mkaka said.

After presenting his nomination papers to Mec, Chakwera asked the commission to use the fused pictogram of MCP and UTM symbols to represent the alliance at the election.

Addressing a rally at Likuni in Lilongwe Sunday, Chilima also downplayed Mec’s rejection, saying Malawians will still choose Tonse Alliance during the fresh poll.

“It doesn’t matter what symbol Mec will put on the ballot paper against Tonse Alliance. As some people have already said, even if they just leave it blank, people will still choose Dr Chakwera,” Chilima said.

Political analyst Mustafa Hussein said in an election, a party’s symbol only helps in identification of the voters’ preferred candidate and nothing else.

Hussein said it is unlikely that anyone cannot vote for a candidate of their choice simply because of a symbol.

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