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Mutharika keeps opposition and ConCourt guessing on assent to the electoral reform bills

President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika says the country's inflation has been in the single digit with a stable local currency for the last four years.

Peter Mutharika

LILONGWE, MaraviPost: Malawi President Peter Mutharika is enjoying the suspense of keeping the opposition and ConCourt guessing as to whether he will assent to the electoral reform bills which Parliament recently passed in line with Constitutional Court directive made when it nullified May 21 presidential election results on February 3 2020.

The Malawi Parliament led by MCP MPs passed the Bills despite concerted resistance from the government benches in the House.

Section 73 of the Constitution states that where a Bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall either assent or withhold assent and shall do so within 21 days from the date the Bill is presented to him.

So, it is not out of bounds for the Malawi President to withhold assent and force the Parliament to redress what he might see as a shortfall in the bills as currently presented to him.

Sub-section 3 and 4 say if the Bill is debated again and passed by a majority of the National Assembly legislators at any time between the dates of the expiry of the 21 days, the Bill shall again be presented for assent by the President.

The opposition has urged President Peter Mutharika to quickly assent to the Bills to ensure that what the court ordered is implemented.

However, Malawi President does not appear to be in a Hurry. It has been more than a week since the bills were passed by Parliament and no word from the President yet. Even his closest aids refuse to reveal which way he is leaning.

“If he sends it back to Parliament, the President will definitely face the Ire of the opposition. However not much they can do as it is his right to do so with proper explanation.

The Opposition say, The President must rise above being the President of his party [DPP] or somebody else who was affected by the court ruling. He must assent to the Bills to ensure that Malawi moves forward with peace and stability.

On what will happen if the Supreme Court overrules the Constitutional Court ruling, Madise said Parliament has powers to repeal all the changes that have been made in compliance with the court order.

The opposition desperate for another bite at the Apple, say as you can see that we have started eating into the 150 days the court gave us. 

On Monday last week, Parliament passed electoral bills, which paves the way for fresh elections on 19 May 2020 and a run-off within 30 days thereafter if there will be any candidate who gets over 50 percent of the total valid votes.

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