6 November 2017

Malawi: Electoral Reforms Bill With 50+1 System Miss On Malawi Parliament Agenda

The much anticipated Electoral Reforms Bill including the 50+1 electoral system for deciding the presidential vote is not amomg the six Bills to be tabled in the National Assembly in the meeting of Parliament form this Friday.

The Parliament's Busisness Committee, which sets the business to be deliberated in the august House, met of Friday chaired by Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya and agree on Bills to be tabled but the Electoral Reforms Bill is not among them.

Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa confirmed that government has not presented the electoral reforms Bill to Parliament because Cabinet is still "scrutinising" the pieces of legislation.

He promised that Cabinet would meet in not too distant futute to discuss the bills and it would be gazetted before bing presented to the House.

The Special Law Commission on the Review of Electoral Law recommended the enactment of six pieces of legislation, among them one which would provide for the transition between one President to another.

The Bills, collectively called Electoral Reforms Bill, are Constitution (Amendment), Electoral Commission (Amendment), Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections, Assumption of the Office of President (Transitional Arrangement) and Referendum.

EU Election Follow-up Mission (EU-EFM), which followed up on recommendations made after the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, said reforms are critical especially at this time when the country is preparing for the 2019 general elections.

The EU-EFM leader of delegation Birgittee Markussen, who said the reforms are key to free, fair and transparent elections, noted that based on the recommendations the EU Observer Mission made in 2014, Malawi seems to be taking important steps.

Said Markussen: "The main challenges in the conduct of polls in 2014 were related to voter registration, preparations, results management, and malpractices during campaign and handling of results.

"We note that the Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC] has started addressing some of the issues administratively and it looks promising."

In the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, President Peter Mutharika won the presidential election with 36 percent of the votes cast while Lazarous Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) came second with 27 percent.

If Malawi had a 50-plus-one electoral system, there would have been a rerun of the presidential election after May 20 2014.

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