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Africa News Thu, 18 Jun 2020

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Malawi govt struggling to raise 12.2 million dollars for poll

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) may face postponing the court-sanctioned presidential election slated for next week Tuesday in the wake of logistical problems including a budget deficit of K9 billion (12.2 million US dollars) to finance the polls.

The electoral body is holding a National Consultative Forum (Necof) with electoral stakeholders in Lilongwe and a consensus will be reached on the route map of the new polling day.

The new chairperson for the electoral body Dr Chifundo Kachale wants to deliver a credible election.

Kachale, the High Court Judge who has replaced Justice of Appeal Jane Ansah - who was the source of multiple protests in the country following the nullified 2019 presidential election, will update the Necof on the state of preparedness.

Treasury says it is struggling to raise K8.7 billion extra money for the smooth conduct of the presidential poll in six days' time.

During the presentation of the 2020/21 National Budget in Lilongwe last Friday, Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamveka said donors are not forth-coming to support the elections budget.

However, the opposition has warned that this should not be a government excuse to cancel the court-sanctioned June 23 election.

Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda said the government is, however, working hard to have the money ready for the election.

"This is a governance issue. It is the wish of Malawians to have this election and we will do all that we can to have the money but as of now, we are struggling to get it," he said.

However, UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said this could be a gimmick by the ruling party to dodge the election on June 23.

"We met the MEC chairperson and he assured us that there are no financial hiccups. We will not accept any move to cancel this election on account that there is no money," he said.

Apart from facing a deficit of about K8 billion, delayed disbursement of funding is another challenge which is affecting some of the activities by the electoral body.

Other electoral stakeholders say hard as it is to endure, the reality is that the preparations by MEC have been dodged by logistical problems and they are playing catch-up.

A two to three weeks delay is being talked about to ensure a credible poll is held.

President Peter Mutharika is facing a stiff challenge from Lazarus Chakwera, a former church cleric who is president of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP). To win outright in the fresh polling, a candidate will need more than 50% of the votes. If no candidates do not, a run-off will be held within 30 days.

Source: allafrica.com

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