Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah says punishment awaits perpetrators of acts that may jeopardise the holding of free and credible by-elections in Lilongwe and Balaka on January 31 and March 5, respectively.
She was speaking at a press briefing on Monday in Lilongwe where she gave stakeholders an update on the two by-elections.
Ansah said: “I should mention here and give out a stern warning that the commission will not tolerate any acts that will jeopardise the process of holding of a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. Anyone found engaging in such acts will be barred from participating in the electoral process. If he is a candidate, he will be disqualified.”
The MEC chairperson, who was accompanied by the electoral body’s commissioners and the organisation’s chief elections officer Sam Alfandika, said the official campaign for the Lilongwe poll has resumed and will run until 6am on January 28.
Lilongwe South will be electing a parliamentarian after the poll was suspended in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, following the death of UTM Party candidate Agness Penemulungu just before the polls.
The commission had earlier planned to hold the Lilongwe South by-election on November 5 last year but this was postponed due to violence during the campaign period.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said the commission had resolved to resume the electoral process after wide consultations with key stakeholders, including all traditional leaders and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate who wrote the commission to fast-track the process for the sake of development in the area. The MEC boss said more details on the Balaka by-election–which has been necessitated by the death of governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councillor Thomson Thomas Bwanali on October 25 last year–will be shared after this January 28 when her commission holds a stakeholders’ meeting.