By Kondwani Magombo
Mangochi, May 14, Mana: Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has proposed June 23, 2020 as tentative date for the fresh presidential election following the May 8 Supreme Court ruling.
MEC Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, said this on Wednesday during the National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF) meeting held in Mangochi where the Commission updated stakeholders on the fresh presidential poll preparations.
She said the proposal was in regards to the fact that while the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s order that the fresh election should be held in 150 days, the latter Court clarified that the 150 days should include the announcing of the results.
“Following the Supreme Court’s clarification, we counted 8 days backwards from July 2, 2020 which is the 149th day from February 3, 2020 when the Constitutional Court made the ruling, and we ended up with June 23, 2020 as a tentative date for the election,” Ansah explained.
MEC Chair was quick to point out that the responsibility of setting the date for the election lied in the hands of Parliament.
She said it was up to the august House to either endorse the proposed date or to set another date within the Supreme Court’s specified period.
There was a tense moment after Ansah’s statement when People’s Party Secretary General, Ibrahim Matola, stood on point of order calling for suspension of the meeting on the grounds that the participants were not served with the “perfected, sealed and binding judgment” of the Supreme Court.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka, supported Matola’s call to have the meeting suspended for the party to consult its lawyers adding that the party felt “ambushed”.
While admitting that there was no “perfected, sealed and binding judgment” available, Ansah said the Commission was basing its proceedings on the orders contained in the May 08 Supreme Court judgment which she said would remain the same.
“The Supreme Court Judge said the judgment needs to be perfected in terms of spellings and grammatical errors and that it will be served within seven days,” Ansah observed.
“But we had our lawyers present in the Court who were taking notes which we are using,” she added and continued: “What you should know is that the orders in the judgment will remain the same and the date will remain May 8, 2020.”
Ansah outlined the Commission’s way forward with other electoral procedures such as voters’ verification and transfers in light of the May 8, 2020 Supreme Court ruling.