As Malawi prepares for the forthcoming tripartite elections, one of the country’s major donor partners, Britain, has asked stakeholders to support the Malawi Electoral Commission (EC) for the body to conduct credible elections next year.
The call came on Wednesday from the British High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin, during Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday celebrations held at the British official residence in Lilongwe.
In his speech, during the celebrations attended by the Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda, Cabinet Ministers, members of the diplomatic community and representatives of political parties, including opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika, Nevin observed: “A well run election will be important not just for Malawi’s reputation, but for SADC’s”.
Said Nevin: “Malawi will take over in August as the Chair of SADC. That will put Malawi at the forefront of efforts, along with regional partners, to resolve the issues that face SADC, including ensuring that political agreements are adhered to and that other elections due to be held in the region are kept to a high standard.”
The British envoy said the UK’s interest in May 2014 is not who wins, but that the process has been free, fair and safe, well-run and within a sensible budget, in addition to freedom to campaign, freedom of the press to report, including equitable access to the national broadcaster as well responsible behaviour from all parties and their supporters.
He went ahead to say that as a country there was need to ensure that prior, during and after the polls all players would desist acts of violence, intimidation or bribery and ensure that there is no interference by security agencies but the provision of appropriate, proportionate and neutral security.
“It means supporting the Malawi Electoral Commission to run a credible election that is transparent, delivered on time and within an efficient budget. The result then should be respected with all adherence to the rule of law,” he said.
In addition, Nevin said it will be through the 2014 elections that the Malawi electorate will decide who is best to deliver their vision for the southern African nation.
“We hope that debate will focus on the issues, not just the personalities or rely on regional or tribal affiliations. It is up to the Malawi people to challenge the parties on these issues, and the parties to be willing to accept the challenge, being tolerant of criticism.
“As the British High Commission, we hope to agree with the parties a new and exciting initiative for Malawi – a version of the BBC’s Question Time – to be broadcast on local radio and television, that will put these issues to the party representatives through interactive debate,” he suggested.
Touching on the development partnership between the UK and Malawi, Nevin said his country will continue supporting Malawi in areas such as health, education, water sanitation, security as well as international and media relations.
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