Malawi opposition wants presidential election cancelled
Rustenburg - Malawi opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is heading to court in a bid to have the presidential election nullified following the dismissal of two electoral commissioners.
This was after President Lazarus Chakwera revoked the appointment of electoral commissioners Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga.
The two were appointed by former president Peter Mutharika on June 7, 2020.
Chakwera fired them on the basis that the two were adjudged incompetent by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on May 8, 2020, regarding the manner in which they handled the 2019 presidential elections.
The DPP maintains that Kunje and Mathanga were properly reappointed by Mutharika in exercise of the powers conferred on a president by the constitution of the country.
"Commissioners Kunje and Mathanga were soon after their appointment duly sworn in and they participated in the conduct and organisation of the 23rd June, 2020, court-ordered presidential general elections as members of the electoral commission."
The party said that soon after the appointment of the new electoral commission in June 2020, the Malawi Congress Party, which is headed by Chakwera, sought to challenge the reappointment of Kunje and Mathanga, but the lawsuit was subsequently withdrawn and the two participated in the electoral process that declared Chakwera as duly elected president of Malawi.
In a statement on its Facebook account on Thursday, the DPP said since the rescission of the appointment of the two commissioners was effective from the date of their appointment – June 7, 2020 – Malawi has not had a duly constituted commission as required by section 75 of the constitution.
"Therefore, rescinding the said appointment immediately invalidates any and all decisions made by the electoral commission as from 7th June, 2020," the party argued.
The party wants the presidential election cancelled as well as by-election conducted, and also want Chakwera to leave office to allow Mutharika to return as president.
"Democratic Progressive Party calls upon President Lazarus Chakwera to leave the Office of the President immediately. He has ceased to be a legitimately elected president of Malawi because the election that elected him into office was presided over by an unconstitutional body."
News website Malawi24 reported on Wednesday that the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Justice Chifundo Kachale, has said the commission does not have the legal mandate following the dismissal of two commissioners.
According to Malawi media reports, attorney-general Chikosa Silungwe has advised Chakwera not to fire the two commissioners, stating that firing the them meant there was no electoral commission and the remaining commissioners should stop discharging their duties.
The commission was in the process of direct engagements with political party leaders in the course of implementing the boundaries review and delimitation programme.
It has now stopped the process as it has no legal authority or basis to continue implementing its activities.
Section 75 (1) of the constitution stipulates that there shall be an electoral commission which shall consist of a chairman who shall be a judge nominated in that behalf by the Judicial Service Commission and such other members, not being less than six, as may be appointed in accordance with an act of parliament.
African News Agency (ANA)