As Malawians gear up for the first ever tripartite elections in 2014, the country’s elections governing body has ruled out the possibility of increasing constituencies as required, citing time and logistical demands as deterrents.
“The commission is aware of the constitutional requirement for the re-demarcation of the constituencies but has observed that time and logistical demands for the exercise would be limiting factors for a timely comprehensive review of the constituency boundaries,” the chief elections officer for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Mr. Willie Kalonga has disclosed.
According to the Malawi constitution, MEC determines constituency boundaries, and in Chapter VII, Section 76 (2) (b), the constitution states that the Electoral Commission is supposed “to review existing constituency boundaries at intervals of not more than five years and alter them in accordance with the principles laid down in subsection (2) (a).
Section 76 sub section (2) (a) stipulates that the powers and functions of the Electoral Commission shall include;“determining constituency boundaries impartially on the basis of ensuring that constituencies contain approximately equal numbers of voters eligible to register, subject only to consideration of population density, ease of communication, and geographical features and existing administrative areas.”
Basing on the stand taken by MEC, the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections will be conducted in the existing 193 constituencies, but according to the Commission, new registration centers will be opened in some constituencies prior to a general voter registration programme which will be carried out mid next year.
However 2015 is the year that the Malawi Electoral Commission has set as a year that it will be able to carry out the constituency demarcation exercise.
“The demarcation of constituency boundaries has been prioritized in the Commission’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan and, everything being equal, will be carried out in 2015,” adds the chief elections officer.
The recent Malawi sitting of parliament has passed the Tripartite Elections Bill whereby the country will for the first time in electoral history conduct presidential; parliamentary and local government elections.
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