Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have observed that the country risks slipping into more court battles and electoral violence should the fresh presidential election proceed on June 23 without cautiously resolving logistical challenges.
Briefing journalists in Blantyre yesterday, the CSOs noted that the poll falls short of several guidelines and fundamental rights that are crucial in the attainment of a free, fair and credible election.
The organisations have since formed a taskforce called Civil Society Task Force for Credible, Free and Fair Elections, led by National Elections Systems Trust (Nest) executive director Unandi Banda, to push for a free and fair fresh presidential poll.
The CSOs’ concerns come barely a day after Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) new chairperson Chifundo Kachale conceded that the commission was facing a daunting task to hold the court-sanctioned election.
Kachale said in a statement issued on Thursday, MEC had reluctantly accepted to hold the election on June 23 due to logistical challenges and the practicalities of having a genuine and credible election.
However, the task force has since appealed to MEC, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), opposition political parties and all other stakeholders to reflect on whether the proposed date was practically plausible.
“We are neither for the postponement of the election nor the conduct of it on June 23. What we have are concerns that must be addressed by Parliament before the proposed voting date.
“In any election, legal framework is paramount. If the legal framework is in shambles the whole process is invalid. For that reason, we ask authorities to seriously reflect on the matter to avert a constitutional crisis because after the expiry of the 150 days the country will plunge into a serious constitutional crisis,” said Banda.
On his part, Black Economic Empowerment Movement (Mablem) executive director Robert Mkwezalamba said Malawians were tired of witnessing the prevailing situation and it was high time “we moved forward”.
“We believe a free and fair election is possible in Malawi. We all need to vote, but let us do so in accordance with the accepted guiding standards and principles,” said Mkwezalamba, who is also board chairperson of the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC).
The CSOs task force has since appealed to stakeholders to engage legal teams and seek court interpretation on the challenges in particular, the legality of the holding the election.