The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has asked members of Parliament (MPs), who started meeting yesterday for the budget session, to forget about their political affiliations and focus on nation-building under the Constitution ahead of the fresh presidential elections.
MLS said the MPs need to responsibly analyse the prevailing circumstances and set or direct the setting of a date for the fresh elections which will provide a suitable climate to ensure the poll is conducted.
In its legal guidance note on campaigning for fresh presidential elections issued on Thursday, the society observed that doing so would avoid a repeat of the adverse elections-related events the country has faced and detracted the nation over the last 12 months.
The society’s call comes when, barely 30 days from now, the country is supposed to elect a new President, but the reality on the ground paints a foggy picture on the practicality of conducting the poll in this period.
“MLS calls upon Parliament to carefully read the full final judgement of the Supreme Court, seek sound, independent and professional legal advice to understand it in accordance with the principles for interpreting Supreme Court judgments and to implement it within the spirit of the Constitutional Order it sustains to ensure free and fair fresh presidential elections,” reads part of the statement.
But the lawyers’ body believes if key legal guidelines and proposals regarding the setting of the date as expressed and set out in the Supreme Court are followed, there would be no constitutional crisis.
“If these basics and the strong recommendations and all directions from the court as well as the applicable constitutional and statutory provisions are borne in mind and followed logically, there is no constitutional crisis or any impending constitutional crisis at all,” reads the legal guidance note signed by the entire MLS executive headed by chairperson Burton Mhango.
With about 29 days to go before the expiry of the court-prescribed 150 days period for the holding of the fresh elections, Parliament is yet to enact enabling legislation to set the date for the poll.
Further, from today, there are no key personnel legally mandated to run an election at the Malawi Election Commission (MEC) following the expiry of term of office for the previous commissioners and after the resignation of former MEC chairperson Jane Ansah a fortnight ago.
But dean of the Faculty of Law at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), Sunduzwayo Madise, told our sister newspaper, The Nation on Thursday that despite the hitches, there was still ample time to hold the elections.