The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says the number of presidential aspirants that have collected nomination forms has risen to 18, as the body refuted aspiring presidential candidate Ras Chikomeni Chirwa’s claimes that it had tipped him to win the polls.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said in an interview yesterday that Chikomeni’s allegations were outrageous and that MEC is a neutral and independent electoral management body whose staff do not engage in partisan politics.
He said: “None of our staff members or commissioners tipped Ras Chikomeni that he will win the presidential polls with a landslide.”
Mwafulirwa assured stakeholders that when aspiring candidates or their agents collect nomination papers from the electoral body, they are treated equally without discrimination.
“They are offered advice on how to fill the nomination paper and it ends there,” he said, adding MEC will always exercise restraint to comment on perceived or likely performance of candidates in elections in respect of their rights as citizens of the nation but also to maintain neutrality.
Mwafulirwa added that MEC also expects candidates or political parties will refrain from making careless statements and allegations.
“Those campaigning should focus on their manifestos and not mire others to gain political mileage.
“As we progress with the preparations for elections, it is the interest of MEC to focus on its mandate as an elections body,” he explained.
Ras Chikomeni Chirwa is one of the 18 candidates that have so far collected nomination forms from MEC to contest as an independent presidential candidate in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Others include theincumbent President Peter Mutharika, UTM Party president and Vice-President Saulos Chilima, Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera, United Democratic Front president Atupele Muluzi as well as People’s Party president and the country’s immediate former president Joyce Banda. The aspirants are expected to pay a nomination fee of K2 million each to participate in the elections.