EU confident of EC independence


The European Union (EU) has said it believes the Electoral Commission (EC) is independent despite President Joyce Banda’s appointment of Vice president Khumbo Kachali as an overseer of the electoral body.

Since Banda appointed Kachali an overseer of EC in a cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago, there has been an outcry from various quarters, including EC’s chairperson Judge Maxon Mbendera, who has since sought clarification from Attorney General Anthony Kamanga.

In an interview on Thursday after the opening of conference of an electoral stakeholders in Lilongwe, EU Ambassador to Malawi Alexander Baum said looking at the situation; nothing has changed in as far as the independence of the EC is concerned.

“I don’t think anything has really changed. What I understand is there are different view points on the matter and there are legal issues involved, which merit an intensive exchange and analysis. I don’t have this analysis. We have not had our own legal analysis of the situation.

“But I think the Electoral Commission is independent. It has the constitutional right of independence. I am pretty confident that this is not really a major issue. But I think there is a need for more consultations, for partisan viewpoints to be exchanged and if there are misunderstandings or differences, they will be sorted out. But that is not our role here,” Baum said.

He said the EU is committed to assisting Malawi in the 2014 tripartite elections.

“Our role as EU is to help the country to have peaceful presidential elections in 2014. There is a mountain of work to be done and the EU is not alone. We have other partners. We have to work together for that objective. We are fully committed. No doubt about that,” Baum said.

The EU, one of the development partners assisting government in the electoral process, in 2009 sent an election observer mission. It has also been assisting the National Initiative for Civic Education.

On Thursday last week, Minister of information Moses Kunkuyu released a statement in which he said President Joyce Banda is reviewing the appointment of Kachali as overseer of Mec. The statement said the president will make an announcement on the matter within the next few days [from Thursday].

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) said Kachali’s appointment is a move aimed at rigging the 2014 elections, an assertion disputed by government. Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last week gave the President a 14-day ultimatum to reverse the decision or face legal action.

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