5 February 2018

Malawi: Proposal to Change Malawi Election Dates From May to September

President Peter Mutharika could end up staying in power unchallenged till September 2019 if the election date is extended Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has informed Parliament Legal Affairs committee of the proposal to consider extending the 2019 election date to allow people more time to cast their votes.

But chairperson of the Legal Affairs committee, Maxwell Thyolera, who belongs to main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) said the initial voting day should be maintained for next year's polls and if anything change should be for 2024.

Ansah informed the committee that the proposal is part of the reforms the commission plans to effect before the next year's tripartite elections.

She said the reforms would require a Constitutional Amendment in Parliament on the schedule of the polls shifting from the Tuesday in the third week of May in the fifth year after the previous general election to September.

According to Ansah, in May Malawi is in cold weather and there are short days and long nights geographically as compared to summer time in September which has long days.

"We think it would be better if the days are shifted," MEC chairperson said.

However, Ansah said the change is not final but one of the reforms the electoral body are "contemplating to propose."

The opposition want the reforms to change the first-past-the-post and the-winner-takes all voting system and replace it with 50-plus-one provision for electing a president.

Under the 50+1 electoral system, the triumphant contender is decided on the basis of getting a majority 50 percent plus one of the votes to win.

In Malawi, a simple majority is currently required for one to win the presidency without provision for a runoff election.


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