22 November 2017

Malawi: Clergy Set for Demo On Malawi Electoral Reforms Bill - to Petition Mutharika in Their Regalia

Public Affairs Committee's (PAC) peaceful demonstrations aimed at pushing for tabling of Electoral and Local Government Act Reforms in the currently sitting of Parliament will take place on Thursday, 23 November 2017 in Lilongwe, Malawi's administrative capital.

According to information made available to Nyasa Times, the "peaceful match" organised by PAC executive committee, trustees and other clergy, will start at 8:30am from Area 18 Round-about to Parliament Building where two petitions will be delivered.

The quasi-religious governance watchdog will particularly petition President Arthur Peter Mutharika and the Speaker to include the Electoral and Local Government Amendment Bill as agenda for the current sitting.

PAC resolved to taking to the streets after noticing the absence of Electoral Reforms Bills on the agenda for the current sitting of Parliament.

The organisation has lobbying the government, opposition and the Speaker on the bills and hoped that the Bill will be tabled this time around.

The clergy will be in their full regalia on the day.

PAC Chairperson Very Reverend Dr Felix Chingota said last week that resolutions to stage demonstrationa were made its emergency board meeting in Blantyre.

The proposed laws, six in total, are missing from the Order Paper--an outline of business to be transacted in Parliament-- but in an elusive statement Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said he would table them.

Chingota said the board meeing was aimed discussing the way forward after noting that government has not included the bills on the agenda.

Pac Chairperson said "issues of elections are at the heart of national life and tampering with issues of elections is actually tampering with the lives of people".

The marchers will first petition the President and later the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, asking them to consider tabling the electoral reforms.

Civil society organisations (CSOs), notably Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), last week appealed to members of Parliament (MPs) to boycott proceedings if the bills are not indicated on the business for the current meeting.

The Electoral Reforms Bills include an amendment of Section 80(2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act proposing 50+1 percent majority in presidential election and an amendment of Section 81 (3) of the Constitution for swearing in of the President and Vice-President to be done after 30 days.

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