Mass Walkout by Opposition MPs over Electoral reform bill

Opposition Parliamentarians led by leader of opposition in the national assembly Dr. Lazarus Chakwera Monday afternoon walked out the august House in protest over the missing of electoral reforms bill on the agenda; other opposition members followed him.

In his reaction Speaker Richard Msowoya said it was their right in a democracy.
However, deliberations continued with MPs among other discussed on the blood sucking rumors that rocked the country.
Government said has not presented the electoral reforms Bill to Parliament because Cabinet is still “scrutinising” the pieces of legislation.

Meanwhile pressure continues to mount on the government to introduce an electoral reform bill for debate in parliament which is currently meeting in the capital, Lilongwe.
The missing of the bill is now contentious issue in Malawi as the quasi-religious body Public Affairs Committee has organized a country wide protests against the failure of government to bring the bill before parliament.
The bill proposes several changes to the current law as the country prepares to hold elections in 2019.
Among the recommendations, the bill proposes the 50+1 system which requires a candidate to gain more than half of the vote. The system includes run-offs if none of the candidates gets more than 50%.

Analysts say some of Presidents in Malawi have in the past elected with fewer than half of the votes cast.
Political scientist Vincent Kondowe told media recently the new bill is in line with the principle of majority rule.
“In this case we have a presidency which was obtained through a minority vote where 64 percent of the population did not vote for him for example, Peter Mutharika in 2014 [elections]. So, may be to avoid such a scenario, it is very important that by 2019, we should have these electoral reforms in place.”
The bill also seeks to delay the swearing in of the winning presidential candidate and his vice president after 30 days. under the current law, the winning presidential candidate can be sworn before 30 days
The debate on the proposed legislation was delayed in May. This, after Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu told parliament that he received the recommendations from the Malawi Law Commission, late.

The minister promised to table the bill in November. However, the legislation was missing from the published agenda for the current session of parliament.
The opposition has earlier threatened to boycott the proceedings should the government fail to introduce the bill for debate.
“They deliberately said November will be the time, after having failed in the past. If we don’t do it now, it never gonna happen. That’s why we have to do it now. And they must bring those reforms now,” said Chakwera
Justice Minister Tembenu told parliament that the bill will be introduced once it is published in the gazette in accordance with the laws. He did not mention the exact date.
The Malawi Electoral Commission said that it will not be able to use the reforms during the 2019 elections if the bill is passed late.
Meanwhile the country’s biggest quasi-religious group, Public Affairs Committee, says it will hold demonstrations across the country on December 13 to protest the government failure to take the bills in parliament