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Malawi Group Vows to Sue Government Over Local Elections


Malawi Group Vows to Sue Government Over Local Elections

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The chairman of the Malawi Electoral Support Network says he will soon institute legal action against President Bingu Wa Muthairka's government for failing to provide funds for the electoral commission to organize local elections.

Aloisious Nthenda said the government has contravened the constitution by failing to organize local elections for the last 10 years.

"As Malawi Electoral Support Network, we have consulted our lawyers and they are now working on the papers. Very soon they will be filing those papers in court so that we start the litigation with regards to government's unwillingness to hold local government elections next year," Nthenda said.

He said the last local elections were held in 1995, a year after the country undertook democratic reforms.

Malawi's constitution stipulates that local elections should be held in the third week of May, one year after national elections.

Local government minister Goodall Gondwe is quoted by Malawi's' media as saying elections would not take place in May as stipulated in the constitution, but probably at the end of 2010.

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But Nthenda said the government is refusing to abide by the constitution.

"Looking at the experience of the last 10 years, there is no way as the Electoral Support Network, we are going to trust government on whatever they say on local government election… because our constitution is very clear as to when we are going to hold local elections," Nthenda said.

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Meanwhile, Electoral Commission spokesman Fegus Lipenga says commission members are holding negotiations with the government for logistical and financial support.

"The Electoral Commission is still consulting with the government on when these local government elections are going to take place…there is no allocation for the allowances for the councilors in this year's budget. So, the government would have to source some money somewhere," Lipenga said.

Observers say the delay in local elections has negatively impacted on rural communities as they have had no elected representatives to promote their interests.

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