Malawi: MEC Warns Against Violence in By-Elections

2 December 2020

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Monday took advantage of the stakeholders meeting it held in Mangochi to warn candidates participating in the by-elections in the district to avoid indulging in violent acts, stressing that MEC will disqualify anyone who may be found in the wrong.

MEC is conducting by-elections in two constituencies in the district, namely Mangochi West and Mangochi North-East after the constituencies fell vacant due to nullification of 2019 results after two independent candidates obtained court injunction, challenging MEC for presiding over a flawed election.

The by-elections, which are slated to be conducted on 15th December is also expected to take place in Phalombe North due to the same nullification reasons.

Initially, the by-elections were scheduled to take place alongside the Makhuwira South Ward in Chikwawa East, Lilongwe North West and Karonga Central which MEC conducted on 10th November, 2020; but MEC deferred them.

This was after Mangochi North East candidate, Martin Sekati Nyengo obtained a court injunction, challenging MEC's decision to conduct fresh registration and allow new candidates to contest, a development that later saw Nyengo wining the case, thereby, disturbing the electoral calendar.

But speaking during the meeting, MEC director of media and public relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa seized the gathering's opportunity to send a warning shot to all the candidates to void inciting violence, saying MEC wants credible and successful by-elections.

"The commission is very eager and ready to conduct by-elections in these three constituencies as per the court's order. I must say we are very much committed to embark on activities that will see us conduct a free, fair and credible election," he explained.

"Therefore, let me urge all the competing candidates to refrain from instigating violence. Should there be any violence which the commission establishes that you have perpetrated, we don't have choice but disqualifying you," he warned.

To this end, he challenged the candidates to strive at offering issue-based campaign, tipping that it is the only panacea that can help them win the election than winning votes through intimidations.

In his remarks, one of the stakeholders, Turner Banda from National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust urged MEC to ensure training of candidates monitors if the electoral body is to minimise cases of violence during the voting day.

On his part, Mangochi district council director of administration, Dominic Mwandira thanked MEC for the meeting, saying the activities the meeting highlighted will help stakeholders to follow the events leading to the by-elections, noting this fosters transparency and accountability.

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