Malawi's vice president and speaker take President Mutharika to court
Cape Town - Malawi’s vice president Saulos Chilima and speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara have turned to the courts for intervention after President Peter Mutharika refused to fire Malawi Electoral Commission head Jane Ansah.
The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) and a parliamentary committee found Ansah to be incompetent to hold the position after allegations of vote-rigging and other irregularities surfaced in relation to last year's presidential election.
The two bodies recommended that the president fire Ansah and nine other commissioners, but Mutharika has not done so.
International news agency AFP said Chilima was also suing the commissioners for their refusal to resign and was seeking a stay order to stop them from working.
"Following the judgment by the Constitutional Court, the MEC commissioners' continued presence in the office is both unconstitutional and illegal," AFP quoted Chilima's attorney Chikosa Silungwe as saying.
The lawyer said the team was waiting on the court to give a hearing date.
After last year's condemned May 21 vote, the ConCourt nullified Mutharika’s 38.5 percent victory and ordered fresh elections, which are set to be held on July 2.
The court further ordered four election bills to be passed within a 21-day deadline. These include the Parliamentary and the Presidential Elections amendment bill which says the president must be elected by more than 50 percent of the vote.
Parliament passed the bills but Mutharika has not approved them, saying they were in conflict with Malawi's constitution.
National speaker Hara said she was not satisfied with Mutharika’s explanation.
Citing a statement issued by Hara, the Nyasa Times said parliament would report to the registrar at the High Court and the Supreme Court.
“The memoranda for the president explaining the reasons for withholding the assent and also why the president has not approved of the MEC commissioners as recommended by the PAC (Parliamentary Commission) was received by my office on March 20," Hara said.
“The national assembly is proceeding to communicate the decisions to the ConCourt through the office of the registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court. Members of the public are hereby assured that the national assembly will continue to abide by any court rulings as one way of ensuring that there is respect for the separation of powers and rule of law."
African News Agency (ANA)