The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has postponed by-elections in Lilongwe South constituency due to political tension in the area.
The commission was expected to hold the elections in the constituency on November 5, 2019.
In a statement released today, MEC Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika said the commission has resolved to postpone the by-elections until further notice following concerns with the growing insecurity and threats to MEC Commissioners and staff deployed to work in the constituency as well as supporters of various parties and candidates.
According to MEC, on October 25, 2019 one of the MEC Commissioners was blocked and stoned while on a Campaign monitoring exercise.
Secretariat staff who were putting up posters were also stopped and verbally intimidated.
“The intimidation was intense that the Commission was forced to postpone all public voter mobilization meetings and activities that it had planned in the constituency,” Alfandika said.
He added that the Commission has tried to quell the situation through convening a Multiparty Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting on October 25, 2019 after complaints of intimidation and violence had been filed.
During the meeting, all leaders pledged to stick to the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidate or risk disqualification. However, the situation has not improved.
“On 27th October, 2019 the Commission received reports from various stakeholders in Lilongwe South Constituency that some people were assaulted and their houses and property burnt and looted. Meanwhile, the matter is being handled by the Malawi Police Service,” reads part of the statement.
The decision to postpone the elections has been taken to safeguard life and property of the people in the constituency and also MEC workers.
The Commission has said it will engage with the leadership of contesting candidates and will be monitoring the situation on the ground. Once the situation improves, the Commission will announce a new date for the polling.
Parliamentary elections in Lilongwe South were also postponed in May following the death of UTM candidate Agness Penemulungu.
In the statement, Alfandika said by-elections in Matenje Ward in Kasungu will proceed as planned since the commission has not received or witnessed any act of violence in the Ward and all the voter mobilization activities and meetings have been running without interference.
Official campaign period will end on November 3, 2019 at 6AM and polling with be on November 5, 2019.