Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (Chreaa) is today expected to obtain an injunction compelling Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to accept Ras Chikomeni Chirwa’s nomination papers which it declined on Wednesday.
Chreaa deputy executive director Chikondi Chijozi confirmed in an interview yesterday her organisation’s plans to obtain an injunction against MEC, saying the K2 million nomination fee for presidential candidates was too exorbitant and is denying Chikomeni his right to exercise freedom to participate in political activities.
She said: “Our main concern is the issue of the requirements for presidential candidates to give K2 million as the condition to run for the presidency. The amount that was set by MEC is too exorbitant for most Malawians. This means only people who are rich in the country have the opportunity.
“So, we want to get a court injunction to compel MEC to accept his nomination papers in the meantime until the court makes the determination on whether the fees for presidential aspirants are discriminatory.”
In an interview last evening, Ras Chikomeni remained confident that he will appear on the ballot in the May 21 Tripartite Elections despite failing to raise the K2 million nomination fee by close business on yesterday.
He said: “I have not raised the K2 million yet. But come rain or sunshine, I will appear on the ballot. I am exercising my rights and no one should interfere with it. People will vote for me. I have collected 10 signatures in almost all the districts.”
But reacting to the matter, Malawi Law Society honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde said MEC has powers to determine electoral petitions and complaints regarding elections and ensure compliance with the Constitution and Acts of Parliament.
She also said both Ras Chikomeni and Chreaa have the right to seek legal redress on the matter if they are aggrieved.
Said Kaukonde: “Section 40(3) gives a right to vote and stand for election. The beginning of the section says “save as provided in this Constitution…”, meaning the right to vote or stand for election is not an absolute right. An interpretation of that section is subject to other provisions in the Constitution.
“It would appear MEC informed the prospective candidate to fulfill the requirements as communicated within a set period, that is up to Friday. But as it is, MEC’s decision is not final”.
On Wednesday, Ras Chikomeni’s supporters, who thronged Comesa Hall in Blantyre to cheer the independent aspirant as he presented his nomination papers were disappointed when MEC did not accept the nomination due to the aspirants failure to pay the K2 million and secure 10 signatures in each of the country’s 28 districts.
MEC gave him 48 hours to meet the two conditions. n