Sep 24, 2017 Last Updated 10:33 AM, Sep 22, 2017
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The Malawi Electoral Commission is appealing to candidates in the October 17 by-elections to abide by the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates which they are signatory to, during the campaign period.

The candidates can officially begin campaigning today, and the period is expected to end on October 15, two days before the polls.

In a statement, signed by the Deputy Chief elections Officer, Harris Potani, the MEC urges the aspirants to observe all electoral laws and regulations during the period.

The Malawi Electoral Commission has confirmed the eligibility of 19 candidates to take part in the by-elections.

Of the 19, 15 are men and four, women.

The aspirants presented their nomination papers to the commission last Friday, in preparation for the elections set to take place in three constituencies and wards in four districts of the country.

In Lilongwe, the by-elections will take place in Lilongwe Nsozi North Constituency, Lilongwe City South East Constituency and Mtsiliza Ward.

Residents of Mayani North Ward in Dedza and Ndirande Makata Ward in Blantyre will also be voting for a new councillor on the day.

The polls will also take place in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency.

Voter registration ends Monday for by-elections to take place in three wards and three constituencies in the country.

The process began on Thursday, last week.

A statement by the Malawi Electoral Commission had indicated that the process would involve registration of voters, previously not registered under the commission, and verification of those already registered.

The statement, signed by MEC’s Deputy Chief Elections Officer Harris Potani, further indicated that the registration centres would be open from 8am to 4pm, including during the weekend and on lunch hours.

Malawians eligible to register are those who have attained the age of 18, or will be of that age by October 17, the polling day.

For non Malawians, the commission states that those of the appropriate age must have been resident in the country for at least seven years, to be allowed to register.

In Lilongwe, the by-elections will take place in Lilongwe Nsozi North Constituency, Lilongwe City South East Constituency and Mtsiliza Ward.

Residents of Mayani North Ward in Dedza and Ndirande Makata Ward in Blantyre will also be voting for a new councillor on the day.

The polls will also take place in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is on Wednesday expected to launch the by-elections scheduled for next month, in three constituencies and wards.

These include Lilongwe Nsozi North and Nsanje Lalanje constituency.

This will be the fifth by-election to be conducted since the 2014 tripartite elections, which ushered in the DPP government.

The by-elections, according to political commentators, are crucial, as they are likely to act as a benchmark for the 2019 polls.

Most political parties, mainly the governing Democratic Progressive Party-DPP and the Malawi Congress Party have intensified their preparations for the by-elections.

MEC’s Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa has told Capital FM that the launch will involve a number of stakeholders in the electoral process.

Electoral stakeholders are urging the government to seriously consider recommendations made by the Special Law Commission to ensure the country holds credible elections in 2019.

They cite the establishment of a Special Basket Fund for the Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC as crucial during the electoral process.

The 2014 tripartite election was marred by numerous irregularities such as inadequate voting materials and poor civic education.

This was attributed to a lack of adequate funding for the Commission to thoroughly prepare for the polls.

Recently, MEC also announced a postponement of Parliamentary and Local Government by-elections in various constituencies in Lilongwe, due to a lack of funding.

Among the recomendations is the 50+1 system in presidential electoral laws will ensure that a president is voted by the majority of Malawians.

Apart from that the commission also recommended that qualifications of people contesting for positions of President, Member of Parliament and Ward Councilor should be reviewed to ensure that all elected duty bearers serve Malawians effectively.

It took about a year of consultation with relevant stakeholders for the special Law Commission on the Review of Electoral Laws under the Malawi Law Commission to come up with the recommendations presented in March.

Speaking to Capital FM, Steve Duwa, who is Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) stressed on the need for the country to have a special fund to fund such activities.

Duwa added that that would help ensure that the country does not have a repetition of irregularities in the next elections.

According to the chairperson the funds need to also be protected once approved by parliamentarians as they will help prepare for elections accordingly with the available resources.

A report on the alleged abuse of funds that took place at the Malawi Electoral Commission is to be submitted to the authorities next week.

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