CSOs fault opposition on Electoral Reforms Bills

Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have faulted opposition political parties for taking a lukewarm approach in pushing for the Electoral Reforms Bills to be presented in Parliament during the current sitting.

The CSOs have also expressed concern with other stakeholders for employing “covert and overt attempts” to frustrate reforms.

Signed the statement: Mayaya

The organisations noted in a statement on Wednesday that while opposition parties initially declared their support to ensure the bills are taken to Parliament, they have abandoned the issue by either choosing to be silent or focusing on non-legislative reforms.

The statement comes barely two days after 16 other CSOs, led by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn), also piled more pressure on government, asking it to live by its word and take the bills to Parliament for debate.

“We observe that while opposition political parties like United Democratic Front [UDF], Peoples Party [PP] and Malawi Congress Party [MCP] had earlier made public pronouncements to support the tabling and enactment of the Electoral Reforms Bills in the current sitting, there is deafening silence from them,” reads the statement, signed by nine CSOs and renowned human rights campaigner Billy Mayaya.

Some of the CSOs include Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Youth and Society (YAS), Citizen Initiative, Citizens Forum for the Defence of Good Governance and Civil Society Network on Transparency and Accountability.

“Even the leader of opposition in Parliament [Lazarus Chakwera] has not lived up to his earlier position in response to calls by members of Parliament to boycott the current sitting if the reforms are not tabled,” added the statement.

But on Tuesday, Chakwera told The Nation the opposition parties were following with interest the unfolding events regarding the issue and will be acting after this week.

The CSOs have since appealed to government to table the bills “as a matter of urgency,” failing which the MPs should protest.

But reacting to the CSOs query on opposition parties, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said his party is still for the bills to be taken to Parliament but following proper procedures.

“There are no shortcuts when dealing with these matters so as UDF we will support the bills while ensuring that we are also procedural,” said Ndanga. n


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