By Jameson Chauluka:
Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has suspended collection of witness statements from its presiding officers in the May 21 Tripartite Elections in preparation for the ongoing elections case due to security concerns.
Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said their lawyers would advise them on the way forward.
“Due to the unconducive atmosphere characterised by animosity and violent behaviour towards staff and lawyers, the commission has decided to halt the exercise. We are no longer going to the councils to collect affidavits and witness statements for our case,” he said.
Mwafulirwa said the nation would be told the commission’s next move.
Mwafulirwa said it was unfortunate that those pursuing justice were in the forefront disturbing the very process of seeking justice.
“We feel that, as a party that was sued, we should have been given room to collect witness statements and present them to court,” he said.
Last week, an angry mob in Kasungu District descended on Mec lawyers who were meeting presiding officers in the elections, accusing the commission of trying to manipulate documents it used in the elections.
Mec’s move raised eyebrows among opposition political parties, among others, accusing the commission of making presiding officers sign fresh documents in relation to the elections.
Before the commencement of the exercise, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which alongside UTM is challenging the elections results management, issued a statement warning Mec to stop collecting signatures from the officers.
However, Mwafulirwa, in an earlier interview with The Daily Times, said the officers were not signing any new documents, adding that there was nothing wrong with their lawyers collecting witness statements from their potential witnesses in the case.
MCP and UTM are challenging the presidential elections in which Mec declared President Peter Mutharika the winner.
Mec Chief Executive Officer, Sam Alfandika, issued a statement asking MCP to withdraw its statement but the party refused to do so.
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