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MEC going ahead with By-elections amid Covid-19

The Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC is going ahead with preparations for the March 30 by-elections despite calls to postpone the polls due to the Covid 19.

MEC will hold the by-elections in seven constituencies and wards following the nullification of the 2019 parliamentary elections as well as the death of the office bearers.

Some stakeholders have argued that the crowding during the campaign period and polling day would be the super spreader of Covid 19.

These polls come amid government restrictions on gatherings, with 50 people cap to ensure observance to the social distancing measure.

Already, many people have relaxed on wearing face masks in public places, a situation medics say contributes to rising cases in local transmissions.

Mwafulirwa- We will continue as planned

But MEC Director of Media and Public Relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa argues that all Covid-19 protocols will be followed.

“The process for the by-elections will not stop and will continue as planned. When the commission was preparing for these by-elections we took time to talk to the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and then we also met with all the parties that have got a representation in parliament under the banner, Center for Multiparty Board. The decision to hold all the polls at once, was proposed by these parties.” Highlighted the Media and Public Relations Director.

“We are aware that we are conducting the elections amid Covid-19 and there are several measures that we have put in place to protect every electoral stakeholder.” Added Mwafulirwa.

Meanwhile, the governing Malawi Congress Party-MCP and one of its alliance partners, Peoples Party-PP are set to conduct primaries ahead of the by-elections.

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This is a process of identifying party torch bearers for the constituencies and wards where the by-elections will be held.

The PP lost parliamentarian John Chikalimba of  Zomba Changalume constituency, while the MCP lost Jacqueline Chikuta of Ntchisi North Constituency and Lingson Berekanyama of Lilongwe Msinja constituency.

“We are preparing now and surely we are going to defend that seat. So far we have about three people who have shown interest and if all of them are going to confirm their interest to the party then we are going for by-elections,” said Ackson Kalaile Banda who speaks for PP.

On their part, the MCP through their National Campaign Director, Moses Kunkuyu say they will go for the primary elections in all the constituencies.

“The directorate of elections in the MCP is going to release the program of the primary elections very soon. We do not have ample time but still, that does not push us into neglecting other provisions of our own constitution,”Kunkuyu said.

Apart from Chikwawa East as well as Nsanje North and Central where the court nullified the 2019 parliamentary election results, the polls will also take place in Ntchisi North, Zomba Changalume, Lilongwe Msinja, Karonga North West constituencies as well as Liviridzi and Chitakale Ward constituencies in Balaka West and Mulanje South Constituencies respectively.

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