Malawi polls in limbo as Mutharika rejects Bill on electoral reforms

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Malawi's constitutional court annulled last year's controversial election, which saw President Peter Mutharika narrowly re-elected. Mutharika appealed and lost.
  • New electoral reforms Bill rejected by Mutharika
  • Bill would have seen Mec replaced

MALAWI President Peter Mutharika this week rejected a Bill that is meant to put in place electoral reforms by parliamentarians in preparation for that country’s forthcoming presidential re-run.

In his rejection, Mutharika said the Bill did not “meet the tests of constitutionality and lawfulness and that infringes on the principle of separation of powers with various arms of the government”.

The bill was passed by parliamentarians as a way of reducing electoral anomalies that led to the nullification of the May 2019 general elections by Malawi’s Constitutional Court.

The fast-tracked electoral reforms would have seen new rules being applied in the upcoming May 19 election.

Some of the electoral reforms that were suggested by the Malawian legislators included revamping the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec).

The Bill also considered the firing of Mec commissioners, among them Jan Ansah, who was accused of being unfit for the position.

By firing Ansah, the MPs intended to rebuild public confidence in the electoral body which has been in the centre of a storm since 2019.

The Bill was also meant to improve voter registration in Malawi through biometric registration.

Through the Bill, the opposition MPs also wanted unimpeded access to the acquisition and printing of ballot papers, which they said had made Malawi elections less transparent over the years.

Zimbabwean opposition has also been calling for the same electoral reforms and has demanded the demilitarisation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

The opposition and civic leaders accuse the Zimbabwean government of deploying military personnel to run the Zec secretariat.

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