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Malawi court cancels appointment of four electoral commissioners

FORMER Malawian president Peter Mutharika (pictured) did not properly appoint commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ruled on Wednesday.

Nyirenda said the law compelled the president to appoint three commissioners each from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but Mutharika appointed four from the DPP and only two from the opposition MCP.

He was delivering judgment in a case where the MCP complained about the composition of the electoral commission.

According to news website Malawi24, MCP cited Section 4 of the amended Electoral Commission Act of 2017, which gives parties with one-tenth of the parliamentary seats power to submit to the president a minimum of three nominees to be appointed as commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission.

The court nullified the appointments of the four DPP commissioners and ordered the DPP to submit three names to the president.

The affected commissioners are Arthur Nanthulu, Steve Duwa, Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga.

MCP commissioners Anthony Mukumbwa and Olivia Liwewe would continue to serve in the commission.

The six, along with chairperson Chifundo Kachale, presided over the 2020 presidential elections where Lazarus Chakwera was elected president.

The court ruling has no bearing on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Last month, the high court ordered Chakwera to formally appoint Mathanga and Kunje.

The two commissioner were appointed on June 10, 2020, but were not given their letters of appointment.

According to media reports, Chakwera stated in November 2020 that he would not issue them with letters of appointment, because they had been found to be ‘incompetent’ by the public appointments committee of parliament and the supreme court of appeal.

The commissioners went to court and obtained an injunction which allowed them to continue working.

The high court in Blantyre later ordered that Chakwera should formally appoint the commissioners and issue them with letters of appointment.

He was also ordered to pay them money owed to them since their reappointment in June last year. The court further ordered the office of the president and cabinet to pay the costs.

 

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