MEC postpones Lilongwe South constituency by-elections over “volatile” situation

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Previous voting exercise in Malawi.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has postponed Lilongwe South constituency by-elections slated for 5th November, 2019 over “volatile” situation.

According to a statement signed by MEC, Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika the electoral body has received complaints since the official launch of campaign.

“Since the launch of the campaign period on October , 19,2019 the commission has been monitoring the environment in Lilongwe South Constituency and also Matenje Ward in Kasungu.

“So far, the Commission has not received or witnessed any act of violence in Matenje Ward and all the voter mobilization activities and meetings have been running without interference,” reads the statement.

The statement adds that the commission has received a complaint regarding the volatile situation in Lilongwe South.

“The Commission and staff have also been victims. On October 25, 2019 one of the MEC Commissioners was blocked and stoned while on a Campaign monitoring exercise. Secretariat staff who were putting up posters were also stopped and verbally intimidated,”

“The intimidation was intense that the Commission was forced to postpone all public voter mobilization meetings and activities that it had planned in the constituency,” reads the statement.

Accordong to the statement, the Commission has tried to quell the situation through convening a Multiparty Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting on October 25, 2019 after complaints of intimidation and violence had been filed.

“During the meeting all leaders pledged to stick to the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidate or risk disqualification. However, the situation has not improved,”

“On 27th October, 2019 the Commission received reports from various stakeholders in Lilongwe South Constituency that some people were assaulted and their houses and property burnt and looted,” reads the statement.

The Commission has, therefore, resolved to postpone the by-elections in Lilongwe South Constituency until further notice.

“This is to safeguard life and property of the people in the constituency and also MEC. Meanwhile, the Commission will engage with the leadership of contesting candidates and be monitoring the situation on the ground,” reads the statement.

MEC says once the situation improves, the electoral body will announce a new date for the polling but the by- elections in Kasungu will take place.

“The Commission reiterates and emphasizes its commitment to hold the by-elections in Lilongwe South constituency so that the people there should have representation in Parliament,”

“The by-elections in Matenje Ward will proceed as planned. Official campaign period will end on November 3, 2019 6 am and polling will be on November 5, 2019.” Reads the statement.