Malawi: Law Expert Says Ansah Resignation May Delay Malawi Elections

A law expert has said the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah just weeks into a crucial presidential election has plunged the country into yet another electoral crisis.

Justine Dzonzi: Fresh elections are court sanctioned polls therefore do not disrupt the electoral process

Justin Dzonzi of Justice Link says it will not be possible for a new commission to hold an election in two weeks' time.

The term of office for Ansah--a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal--was set to expire in October this year while that for her eight commissioners is ending on June 5 this year

"This means in two weeks' time, we will have no commission at all.

"Take into account that we will have an election on 23 June, this is an electoral crisis," he said.

Dzonzi questioned the timing of Ansah's decision to tender her resignation letter.

However, Human Rights Defenders Committee (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence described Ansah's resignation as good riddance.

"Without Malawians' pressure, she could not have resigned. She has wasted Malawians' time," said Trapence.

Ansah told the state controlled MBC that she is leaving MEC with shoulders high, with clear conscience and not because of HRDC led violent demonstrations.

"That's why I stood through the demonstrations," she said.

She has been the target of nationwide protests over the commission's handling of the ballot in February last year that saw President Peter Mutharika secure a second term but results were annulled by the Constitutional Court because of widespread irregularities.

The judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal, the country's top judicial authority, after an appeal by Mutharika and the electoral body.

New elections are scheduled for June 23, and the successful candidate will have to win an outright majority rather than simply the most votes as in the past.

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