Refugees barred from voting in Malawi’s tripartite elections



As registration exercise for the first tripartite elections begins Monday in Malawi, the country’s electoral commission has made it clear that refugees and asylum seekers are not eligible to vote and should therefore not be allowed to register.

Eligible voters are supposed to be Malawian citizens or persons who have ordinarily been resident in the country for the past seven years and who will turn 18 by the polling day (May 20, 2014).

But the law bars refugees and asylum seekers not to vote since they are not ordinarily residents.

“They are here because they are seeking asylum. Those who have been ordinarily residents are supposed to provide evidence that they have stayed that long in the country by providing their passport, resident permit or any relevant document that can prove that,” head of public relations at the electoral body, Sangwani Mwafulirwa has pointed out.

As for prisoners, Mwafulirwa says, they are eligible to vote in as long as they are not on the death row, declaring that registration centers will be opened right in the prisons.

The Commission has since started civic education campaign by conducting meetings with traditional leaders, the general community, running radio advert and programmes, and conducting road shows targeting the districts where registration rolls off first.

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