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Mec officials, lawyers chased

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By Feston Malekezo:

Sangwani Mwafulirwa

Some members of the community in Kasungu District chased Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) officials and lawyers when they wanted to collect signatures of presiding officers for the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Mec lawyers and staff are meeting the presiding officers to prepare for affidavits for the on-going presidential court case involving the commission and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM, which are challenging presidential election results.

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Mec declared Democratic Progressive Party’s Peter Mutharika the winner of the presidential race, but MCP and UTM insist the elections were marred by irregularities which Mec overlooked. Full trial of the case resumes on July 29 2019.

Kasungu Police spokesperson, Harry Namwaza, confirmed the development but was quick to say the situation was contained and nobody was harmed.

“What we have gathered, so far, is that the people did not want the Mec officials to collect the signatures they are looking for. So they mobilised themselves and went to the council where they foiled the process. We intervened quickly and the situation was contained,” he said.

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The scuffle came barely a day after MCP issued a statement warning Mec to stop collecting the signatures.

Reacting to the scuffle, Mec spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, said the incident was unfortunate, blaming it on the statement which MCP issued.

“All our blame goes to the statement issued by MCP on July 13 [2019] that people should be vigilant and apprehend Mec staff wherever they see them. It is unfortunate that those that went to court seeking justice are in the forefront obstructing justice,” he said.

In the statement, MCP condemns the process claiming it is aimed at tampering with results’ sheets and compromising potential witnesses.

But Mec Chief Elections Officer, Sammy Alfandika, in a statement issued Sunday, has asked MCP to withdraw the statement.

“The commission has noted with grave concern and deep regret a misleading and malicious statement from the Malawi Congress Party inciting hatred and unkindness towards Mec lawyers and staff that have been going to various district councils to meet with presiding officers to collect information for filing in defence of its action as demanded by the on-going presidential election court case,” the statement reads.

“The truth of the matter is that Mec lawyers and staff are in the process of preparing documents demanded by courts in defence of the action taken by the commission in the declaration of the presidential results of the 2019 TPE [Tripartite Elections] currently under dispute.

“In this regard, Mec is calling upon the MCP to withdraw this statement unconditionally or else Mec will make necessary applications in court for redress. The commission also wishes to state that the MCP shall be held accountable for any loss of life of Mec staff or lawyers or loss or damage to property in the course of this exercise.”

However, MCP spokesperson, Maurice Munthali, Sunday said they would not withdraw the statement.

Mec declared Democratic Progressive Party’s Peter Mutharika the winner of the presidential race, but MCP and UTM insist the elections were marred by irregularities which Mec overlooked. Full trial of the case resumes on July 29 2019.—Additional reporting by Yohane Symon and Mandy Pondani

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