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Mec ponders by-elections amid Covid-19 restrictions

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MALUNGA—We discussed this matter

The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has said it is scrutinising new guidelines for Covid-19 prevention that the government, through the Ministry of Health, recently gazetted to determine if the electoral body can go ahead and conduct by-elections in five constituencies.

Among the guidelines are that not more than 10 people should gather in one place and that everyone should wear a face mask in public places.

Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said in an interview that the electoral body will engage stakeholders such as political parties after completing the scrutiny.

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Mwafulirwa said Mec is aware of the importance of holding the elections in the constituencies that do not currently have representatives and that it is trying its best to ensure people exercise their right to vote.

“The commission will issue a statement after going through the new guidelines and engaging all stakeholders. Be assured that the commission is trying every possible means to hold the by-elections so that people in the five constituencies have representation,” Mwafulirwa said.

UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti Malunga said his party still respects the Centre for Multiparty Democracy agreement that the elections should go ahead.

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“We discussed this matter and the Mec chairperson was told that as political parties, we want the by-elections to continue even though there is this pandemic. This position has not changed, otherwise we will hear from Mec,” Malunga said.

We did not manage to speak with Democratic Progressive Party officials as they were reportedly locked up in a meeting.

Malawi Congress Party Publicity Secretary Maurice Munthali said both Covid-19 prevention measures and the elections are important and that his party will wait for directions from Mec and the government.

“People need to have their representatives in the constituencies. This is their right and it is not good to block them. However, on the other side, the pandemic needs collective efforts to be dealt with. Therefore, we respect our laws,” Munthali said.

Mec is supposed to hold by-elections in Mangochi West, Mangochi North East, Phalombe North, Lilongwe North West and Karonga Central constituencies.

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