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HomeMalawiMEC chairperson Ansah rubbishes her resignation calls; Given seven days ultimatum

MEC chairperson Ansah rubbishes her resignation calls; Given seven days ultimatum

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has ruled out resigning from her position after a crucial biometric voter registration kit was found in Mozambique as calls for her to step down continue to grow louder over how she has handled the matter.

Ansah refused to step down, arguing she didn’t do anything wrong.

The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HDRC)  have warned that if Ansah does not resign within seven days, they will mobilise the masses to demonstrate until she leaves her position.

But in an interview Sunday,  the defiant Ansah said she had done nothing wrong  to merit her resignation from MEC pitching the  electoral boady into an unprecedented credibility  crisis over the biometric voter registration kit used in the ongoing voter registration exercise which was found on a train in Mozambique .

“I have done nothing wrong. The kit was found in Mozambique, at first we thought there was mix up, that it ended up going to another voter registration centre just to hear that it was found in Mozambque,” she said.

She insisted that when the kit missed, it did not have viable information on voter registration, saying all the crucial information had already been transferred to a main server.

“There is nothing to worry about, nothing has been tampered with,” she said.

Ansah said no one has been arrested so far, saying the police were working on investigations to find out how the machine ended up in Mozambique eroute from Lilongwe to Mwanza.

The discovery of the machine is Mozambique has alarmed Malawians after the ruling Democratic Progressive rigged the 2014 elections, as the state intelligence operatives burned down ballot papers in Lilongwe to conceal evidence.

Steve Duwa, an election activist said forcing the whole MEC to resign would not be ideal talking into account that there are less than six month before the highly contested polls in May 2019.

“If the MEC commissioners are forced to resign, this means a new set of commissioners would be ushered in and would start from a scratch, this will not be good for the conduct of the elections,” he said.

Duwa however said the explanation by MEC on the missing kit which has since been recovered in Mozambique is still wanting and lacks substance.

Governance and rights activist Makhumbo Munthali said “It is now clear that the issue is getting out of hand, and if not handled professionally and the urgency it deserves the matter has the potential to erode a few gains already made in the build up to 2019 Tripartite elections.”

Munthali said  MEC cannot only rely on a “simple press statement and conference to address this matter.”

He said: “There is need for MEC to call for an emergency stakeholders meeting to discuss the matter, otherwise if not handled well the issue has the potential to validate the existing perceptions in some quarters that elections in Malawi are rigged. Let MEC engage stakeholders including its fierce critics as a matter of urgency.

“The emergency stakeholders meeting shall also provide MEC to clearly respond to some of the pressing matters raised in MCP and DPP press statements on why MEC did not report to the public and stakeholders about the stolen biometric registration kit.”

The recovered kit contained data for those who registered for citizenship at Ndonda in Kasungu, Nthuwila School in Ntchisi, and Chauwa School in Lilongwe and got lost as it was being transported in an open Tata truck from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) en route to Mwanza, according to Mec.

MEC was informed of the recovery of the kit on September 29 2018 but kept quiet until it was revealed that it has been found.

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