Approve Electoral Bills in 7 Days-HRDC Tells APM

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The Human Rights Defenders Coalition has given President Peter Mutharika a seven-day ultimatum to assent to the amended Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA) and Electoral Commission Act, threatening to mobilize 5 million Malawians to hold vigils at State House if this does not happen.

Speaking during a press briefing in Lilongwe on Tuesday HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo said the appointing authority should also make sure new Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners are put in place to prepare for fresh presidential elections slated for 19 May 2020.

“We don’t want the fresh presidential elections to be affected because the president has not assented to the bills. Let President Mutharika assent to these bills as soon as possible,” Mthambo said.

While acknowledging the 21-day rule within which the president is supposed to act on bills passed in parliament, Mtambo said the rule can be waved considering that the country is against time to meet the 150 days to hold fresh presidential polls as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

“Parliament waved the 28 day rule which is a requirement to bring a bill notice and passed the two bills on the same day. This was done because the MPs know the importance of doing so, let the president also do the same when assenting to the bills.”

Legal expert Justin Dzonzi says it is possible for the president to act on the bills as the law only gives him a maximum 21 days to do so.

“The law provides for maximum 21 days from the day the bills have been filed for the president to assent or not assent to them. This is not a restriction; the president can do so in a day,” Dzonzi said.

He added “Of course the president is required to go through the bills before acting on them but considering the situation I think HRDC is justified.”

During the press briefing HRDC member Billy Mayaya condemned the creation of new ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events, saying it is only meant to appease individuals.

On Monday, HRDC cancelled its planned vigil at Parliament after MPs passed the two bills which set 19 May 2020 as date for fresh presidential election.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 26/02/2020

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