Malawi: Lilongwe South East By-Elections in Limbo

The current political environment in the country is not suitable for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to hold elections in Lilongwe South East where the elections were canceled due to the death of a candidate.

MEC Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said in an interview Thursday that the Commission was committed to conduct the by-elections this month (July), but the activity was halted because of the political tension.

The electoral commission shelved the parliamentary elections in Lilongwe South East Constituency following the demise of UTM candidate, Agnes Penemulungu.

"We are not holding by-elections now. We will reschedule when matters are settled. We are also concerned as MEC that the area has no representation in parliament. Our staff is facing hostility on the ground and we cannot risk it," said Mwafulirwa.

He said the electoral body will in due course announce a full calendar of events where new candidates will be welcomed.

"Those that already presented nomination papers successfully will only be required to submit letters expressing interest to contest.

"There will also be voter registration for people eligible to vote in the constituency that did not register before," he said.

Mwafulirwa further said those that already registered will not need to register again but rather just verify their names in the voters register, adding that transfers of voters will not be allowed.

He emphasized that the electoral body will take time to hold by-elections in the constituency not because of issues in court but rather because there is animosity and vigilante justice mobilized against MEC staff.

The Malawi electoral law provides that by-elections should take place within sixty days after the occurrence of a vacancy.

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