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Pressure mounts on Mec commissioners

Pressure continues to mount on embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Jane Ansah and her commissioners that they should resign from their positions, with two concerned Malawians threatening legal action against them.

The two, George Ngwira from Karonga and Mzuzu-based Aaron Kayira, have given Ansah and her team up to Tuesday, February 18 2020 to vacate office on grounds of incompetence.

Through a demand letter by their lawyer George Kadzipatike, which we have seen, Ngwira and Kayira say they cannot entrust the commission again to manage their vote following the pronouncement of ineffectiveness by the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe two weeks ago.

They also cite that during the commissioners’ appearances before the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (Pac) last week, it was clear from their responses that they flouted legal procedures stipulated in the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act on how elections should be conducted.

They further express doubt that President Peter Mutharika might remove Ansah and her team from office even if Pac makes such a recommendation.

“We write to you, commissioners, severally and collectively, to vacate your office as members of the electoral commission under Section 75 (3) (b) of the Constitution… While your terms of office have not expired …circumstances have arisen which would have disqualified you from appointment as a member of the commission had you not been a member thereof…” reads part of the letter which Kadzipatike has signed.

Kadzipatike has further stated in the letter that, although the commission is appealing the Constitutional Court’s verdict at the Supreme Court, findings of the High Court remain in full force and are binding.

Adding: “You are up to now guilty of incompetence. It is for this reason that our clients do not want to take the glaring risk of entrusting you with the management of their votes again. If you do not vacate office…we shall file a legal action in the High Court….”

Kadzipatike confirmed the action in a telephone interview saying they will move the court to declare that all members cease to be in the commission.

Only Commissioner Mary Nkosi out of the six of the commissioners told Pac during her appearance that she was ready to step down following the commission’s failure to manage May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections in accordance with the law.

Commissioners Reverends Killion Mgawi and Clifford Baloyi are yet to face Pac.

During her turn, Ansah reiterated that she will only resign after the Supreme Court of Appeal finds her team guilty, a position contrary to her earlier stand in which she told the nation that, once the Constitutional Court finds her guilty, she would leave office.

This forced Human Rights Defenders Coalition leadership in all the major cities to take to the streets and seal Mec offices Thursday.

On February 3, the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe nullified May 21 2019 presidential election and ordered a fresh poll within 150 days citing anomalies and irregularities.

Last week, the court led by Justice Healey Potani threw out applications by Mec and Mutharika for stay of the court’s election nullification judgement.

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