Despite Malawi Parliament passing the Tripartite Elections Bill, the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) says there is still uncertainty over the possibility of the country holding the Local Government Elections (LGE) in 2014.
In an interview on Friday, Mesn publicity secretary Steve Duwa said the passing of the constitutional amendment to allow the country hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections at once can only work if some laws are repealed and harmonised with the amendment within the next 19 months.
According to Mesn, the crucial acts requiring amendment to enable the country hold LGEs alongside presidential and parliamentary elections are the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (PPE) Act and the Local Government Elections Act.
Said Duwa: â€œTechnically, the passing of the [tripartite elections] Bill and later its subsequent turning into a law, does not put to an end all the anxieties as we still have to harmonise the already existing laws.â€
He also said the key to turn the Bill into law and have all stakeholders start preparations for tripartite elections in 2014 still rests with the President.
â€œWhat we have now is a bill on tripartite elections which now needs the President to assent to so that it becomes law and binding on all those involvedÂ in the management of theÂ elections in Malawi,â€ said Duwa, who added that Mesn is â€œgreatly appreciative to the government for bringing the Bill [into Parliament].â€
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara on Sunday agreed that there are some laws to be looked at before the country can hold the tripartite elections, but assured that government was working on these laws so that everything is in place before 2014.
Kasambara, who is also the Attorney General, described the passing of the Tripartite Elections Bill as the beginning of a process. He said soon government will bring all the other bills that will see concerned Acts being harmonised with the Constitution.
Electoral Commission (EC) spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said as much as the electoral body was mindful of the need to have the Bill assented to and also that some laws have to be worked on, it is ready to hold credible elections even the tripartite one.
Since the dawn of plural politics through a June 14 1993 National Referendum, Malawi has only held LGEs once in November 2000 which were marred by low voter turnout estimated at 11 percent. The local councils were dissolved in 2005. Prior to the constitutional amendment, local polls were legally scheduled to be held 12 months after the PPEs. Â