16 April 2019

Malawi: MEC Struck Off Chilumpha From Presidential Ballot

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said they have struck off the name of former vice-president Cassim Chilumpha being on the presidential ballot paper in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections after the High Court ruled against his candidature for Tikonze People's Movement (TPM).

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MEC Chief Elections Officer said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that the High Court ruled the commission committed an error of law because nomination papers of Chilumpha had irregularities.

He said Chilumpha, a lawyer , did not challenge the matter in court.

"Pursuant to the requirements of the law that governs nomination of candidates for presidential elections, the implication of the above Court's decision is that Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha's nomination has been rendered invalid," Alfandika said in the statement.

"The Commission has, therefore, struck off his name from the list of candidates duly nominated for election for the office of the President of the Republic of Malawi."

MEC said it will not challenge the court's decision and that if Chilumpha was not satisfied with the ruling he can lodge for an appeal himself.

Chilumpha, has however, blamed the court for making the determination in his absence, but ruled out appealing, saying he was not part of the case.

"The judge [Mike Tembo] should not have made such a decision in my absence," said Chilumpha. "Natural justice means the person that you are arguing with should be given a chance to be heard."

Chilumpha said he was one of the people who fought for democracy that entail justice in the country, but wondered "where is justice and fairness?"

The matter began in February this year when TPM members, through secretary general Rose Anthony, wrote the electoral body advising it not to complete processing Chilumpha's nomination papers because he was not sponsored by the grouping.

Among others, TPM argued that at the time Chilumpha was presenting his nomination papers to MEC, the group had entered into a formal electoral alliance with UTM Party and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) on February 2 to support one candidate, incumbent Vice-President Saulos Chilima.

Besides TPM and Aford, People's Party (PP) had also endorsed Chilima's presidential bid.

However, PP, which is led by the country's former president Joyce Banda, pulled out from the partnership three days later after UTM Party allegedly refused to give PP the running mate slot which eventually went to Michael Usi, popularly known by his stage name Manganya.

In its letter, TPM further indicated nine out of the 13 registered TPM executive members did not discuss or approve Chilumpha's presentation of nomination papers; hence, it was done in his individual capacity.

TPM was formed late last year following the merger of six political parties namely Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM), New Labour Party (NLP), Republican Party (RP), Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) and Assembly for Democracy and Development (ADD) which was founded by Chilumpha.

If Chilumpha does not contest as per the court determination, it will mean that the 6.8 million registered voters will have seven presidential candidates to choose from when they queue to vote on May 21 2019.

MEC is currently printing ballot papers in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

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