Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says it will on May 28 hold a fresh wave of nationwide demonstrations to force out embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and her team for alleged incompetence.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, HRDC national chairperson Gift Trapence said the impunity demonstrated by MEC commissioners has prompted the coalition to revive the demonstrations.
He said: “We have announced demos on 28th of May. We want Jane Ansah and her fellow commissioners to leave MEC.
“We have been doing this for the past 10 months and the courts vindicated us that the current commissioners are not competent enough to be at MEC. They must go.”
In its judgement on February 3, the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as a Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over alleged irregularities and tasked Parliament’s Public Appointments
Committee to assess the competence of MEC commissioners.
The committee recommended that the commissioners be fired and a new team appointed. However, President Peter Mutharika ignored the recommendations.
But in its May 8 judgement, a seven-judge panel of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, while upholding the nullification of the election, also queried the competence of MEC commissioners.
On her part, Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, is on record as having indicated that she would step down if the Supreme Court upheld the findings of the Constitutional
Court. However, she is still serving as her term expires in October. On the other hand, the terms for the other commissioners expire on June 5 this year.
In his fresh appeal, Trapence said: “We are even calling on the National Elections Consultative Forum
to stop entertaining her and not attend the meetings she calls because she doesn’t have the mandate to address them. Until there is a new crop of commissioners, the current ones should not be allowed to run elections.”
He said in compliance with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic precautionary measures of social distancing and restriction of gatherings to not more than 100, protesters are encouraged to wear face masks. He said all precautionary measures will be observed.
According to the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Act 2017, the President shall, subject to Section 75 of the Constitution, appoint suitably qualified persons to be commissioners on such terms and conditions as the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament shall determine