Malawi president rejects electoral reforms, refuses to fire electoral commissioners

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MALAWI President Peter Mutharika has refused to sign electoral reforms which the country’s parliament agreed on in February following the constitutional court ruling on February 3.

Mutharika has also refused to fire the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, and her 8 commissioners as recommended by the Public Appointment Committee (PAC) of Parliament in February.

PAC made the recommendation to Mutharika after the Committee had tested the competency of the commission as recommended by the court and the Committee found the Commission ‘incompetent’.

But Mutharika, speaking through his presidential spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, on Tuesday told journalists at a press briefing held in the city of Blantyre that he had found both the electoral reforms and the calls to fire MEC invalid.

‘On PAC’s recommendation for the president to fire the MEC, the President has observed that the whole procedure that PAC followed was wrong,’ explained the presidential spokesperson.

‘PAC conducted the inquiry into the competency of the commissioners without paying attention to required procedures when one is questioned on matters that border on their rights,’ the spokesperson said.

Kalilani also said Mutharika finds assertions that the MEC is incompetent is inconsistent as it is the same Commission that handled the May 2019 parliamentary and local government elections which were not disputed.

On the electoral reforms, Kalilani said after wide consultation, Mutharika found that Parliament contravened the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, in deliberating the electoral reforms without following what is stipulated in the Constitution.

‘Due to that reason, the president will not sign the electoral reforms as any law that contravenes the constitution is not a law,’ said Kalilani.

He added that Mutharika’s message to Malawians was that he took oath to defend the Constitution of the country and that the president will do that until the expiry of his presidency.

Recently, the country’s human rights activists threatened to seal state residences on March 25 if Mutharika refuses to fire MEC and if he refuses to assent to the electoral reforms.

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