‘Smaller’ parties cry for debates: Petition British High Commission

Five so called minor political parties in the May 20 presidential race have petitioned the British High Commission over what they describe as British interference in the political affairs of the country and facilitating rigging process  in the way the commission is handling elections debates.

The political parties are the Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM), the United Independence Party (UIP), Mafunde, the New Labour Party (NLP) and Peoples Transformation Party (Petra).

Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM) President, Mark Katsonga Phiri confirmed to the Malawi News Agency (Mana) that as concerned political parties, they are wondering as to why the British Commission is only targeting four parties in their debates excluding all other political parties that are also in the race.

“In fact I am the one who noticed that there is something wrong with these debates and later I informed other parties who shared a similar view and we agreed to write the British High Commission to hear their stand on the matter since they are the ones sponsoring these debates.

Katsonga:  We need also the debates, we have something to offer

Katsonga: We need also the debates, we have something to offer

“We wrote a joint letter on the matter where the five parties I have mentioned are signatory to. We told the commission in our letter that what they are doing is wrong since it is showing segregation.

“We told the commission that what they are doing is likely to mislead the voter thinking that those in the debates are real ones to vote for. We further told them that they are interfering in the country’s political affairs which may lead to election rigging,” said Katsonga Phiri.

Katsonga noted that there are no big parties during elections saying it is only voters through their vote who determine which party is bigger or biggest in terms of what it promises to offer them.

“It is good that the British High Commission has responded to our letter by admitting that somehow some where the debates issue need to be looked into as it has some shortfalls.

“In their response they have assured us that the commission is going to facilitate debates for all political parties but we have also written them to give us specific dates on when those debates are going to be done.

“Since they have responded to our concerns, the matter is closed now and we are just waiting to see what will happen if indeed they are going to fulfil their promise,” said Katsonga adding that the concerned parties also quizzed the commission to explain the criteria they were using to select those few parties taking part in the debates.

The PPM president said they have demanded that the Commission should start with party officials debate, thenrunning mates debates and should also be included in the presidential debate which is yet to be done saying the concerned parties are ready for debates even on a short notice.

Helen Singh, president of the United Independence Party (UIP) confirmed that they indeed wrote a joint letter to the British High Commission saying it is not making sense for the commission to focus on four parties only in their debates.

Singh said she is happy that the Commission has positively responded to the concerns noted by admitting that it will facilitate debates for the remaining parties.

“Why selecting a few political parties only, we have also something to offer to the nation. We need three debates because the last two debates of officials and running mates we have not been included,” said Singh.

Petra President Kamuzu Chiwambo also indicated his party had seen the need to petition the British High Commission.

“I can confirm that I agreed to petitioning the British High Commission, registering our concerns on elections debates currently being undertaken.

“In fact I am the one who facilitated the whole process but the matter is closed now since they have responded positively to what we were expecting,” said Chiwambo.

Chipani Cha Pfuko President Davis Katsonga said he highly supported the move taken by the other parties to petition the British High Commission saying it is unfair to select a few parties only to participate in the debates.

“I was not informed about the letter to the British High Commission but I totally agree with the parties that had written the letter to the Commission.

“By sidelining other parties in debates, it shows that people have already judged us even before the actual elections.

“No party is bigger than the other. What about us, don’t we have something to offer to the public,” wondered the Chipani Cha Pfuko President.

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