The Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has accused members of Parliament (MPs) of lacking seriousness in terms of holding Local Government Elections in 2014.

Mesn says the civil society will not accept that the elections should be pushed to 2019.

In an interview on Tuesday following a report by Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee which wants the local polls to be pushed to 2019, Mesn spokesperson Steve Duwa said the report’s suggestions clearly indicate that politicians, especially MPs, are afraid of the Local Government Elections.

Said Duwa: “It is clear that it is the politicians and the Legal Affairs Committee who do not want the local polls. The issue of resources that is being talked about is out because we have had
discussions with the EU [European Union] and UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] who said the resources are there and it is possible to have tripartite elections in 2014.

“Again, the Legal Affairs Committee was not mandated to look at whether it is possible to hold tripartite elections. Its mandate was to look at the laws and harmonise various laws. The consultation which they say they did took into account the question of the laws.”

He said if both government and Parliament were serious on the matter, the tripartite elections bill could have been discussed and passed during the just-ended meeting of Parliament.

Duwa also said civic education was not an issue since the trend in all the elections is that intensive civic education is done during the campaign period which is normally two months before an election, yet this time it is almost 18 months before the next elections.

EU Ambassador Alexander Baum, in an e-mail response to a questionnaire, said under the Democratic Governance Programme, the EU is ready to support the 2014 elections even if government decides to hold tripartite elections.

The EU’s continuous “between-the ballots” support to the Electoral Commission (EC) includes support for the revision of electoral laws and procedures, registration of new voters and improving the voters’ roll, according to Baum.

Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee Kenzie Msukwa said based on the report, it would be wrong to conclude that politicians are afraid of the Local Government Elections.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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