By Duncan Mlanjira
Ras Chikomeni Chirwa, who was barred from contesting for the May 21, 2019 tripartite elections because he failed to meet several of the conditions need, is one of the three presidential candidates who collected their nominations papers from Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for the fresh presidential elections scheduled for July 2.
Once again, Ras Chikomeni is intending to run as an independent as well as Smart Swira while the third one is from New Republican Party.
MEC’s Communications Director, Sangwani Mwafurirwa said the three nominations were collected on Tuesday, a day after the launch of the election process on Monday.
Mwafulirwa reminded candidates that they are expected to collect 10 signatures of registered voters in each if the 28 districts before presentation to MEC to be done on April 23-24.
“We are appealing to all political parties and individuals interested to contest to collect nomination papers on time so that they have ample time to collect the signatures and raise the K2m nomination fees before the nomination day,” Mwafulira said.
Other candidates that are interested in contesting are from the two electoral alliances that have been formed between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) and that between Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the UTM Party.
The torch bearer for the DPP/UDF alliance is expected to be incumbent President Peter Mutharika while that of MCP is Rev. Lazarus Chakwera.
Meanwhile, MEC released phases for the voter registration for the fresh presidential election which shall run from April 4 to June 7 in four phases of 14 days each with three days for transition.
MEC launched the fresh elections process on Monday as determined by the February 3 judgement of the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court and the polling day has been set for July 2.
The Constitutional Court set 150 days to hold the fresh elections and July 2 is the 149th day from the February 3 judgement.
The fresh elections will be done from 06:00hrs to 18:00hrs and the results shall be determined and announced by MEC between July 3-10 (7 day’s grace period).
The first phase scheduled for April 4-17 targets nine districts — Chitipa, Karonga, Salima, Dedza, Ntcheu, Blantyre District, Blantyre City, Chikwawa and Nsanje.
The second phase for April 21-May 4 will involve 10 districts — Rumphi, Likoma, Mzuzu City, Mzimba, Lilongwe District, Lilongwe City, Thyolo, Luchenza Municipal, Phalombe and Mulanje.
Third phase for May 8-22 is for 8 districts — Nkhata Bay, Mzimba, Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Dowa, Balaka, Neno and Mwanza.
The last phase for May 25-June 7 is for nine districts — Kasungu District, Kasungu Municipality, Mchinji, Mangochi District, Mangochi Town, Machinga, Zomba District, Zomba City (central) and Chiradzulu
Announcing the launch of the fresh elections during a press briefing at Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre, MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah SC said all voters who registered during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the three by-elections held thereafter, just need to go and confirm if their names appear in the register for their respective centres while those who did not will be expected to bring national identity (ID) cards for registration.
The Commission is expecting to register those that have turned 18, or will attain voting age by 7June 2020 or never registered as voters during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the three by-elections held thereafter.
Ansah said those that have not registered for the national ID should do so now at the District Commissioner’s office and post offices that have been designated for National Registration and bring the slip they will be given as proof of civil registration for the registration.
On Coronavirus preventive measures that the government has set since Friday, Ansah said MEC will undertake to ensure the safety of its staff, both at headquarters and in the field, during the implementation of the electoral process.
“There will be masks, gloves, water and hand sanitisers for use in all places and there will be strict observance of distances between individuals as well as gatherings of less than 100 people during meetings.
“I urge all electoral stakeholders, including political parties, to join hands with the Commission in observing and applying the same measures in all their undertakings as directed by the State President, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter
“Further to the safety of staff and voters, the successful implementation of the election calendar that is being launched today will be subject to mitigation of the impact of the Coronavirus including travel embargos and shutdown of election materials production companies,” she said.