Britain, US urge Malawi parties to run issue-based campaign

Britain and Unites State of America through their diplomatic missions in Lilongwe have urged Malawian political party leaders to desist from hate-filled speeches and  conduct issue-based campaigns in the run up to next year’s tripartite elections.

In a joint statement British High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin and US Ambassador Jeanine E Jackson issued on Tuesday, the diplomats said Malawi political party leaders should not be involved in mudslinging and name calling during political rallies, urging them to focus on issues of development.

“We support an election that is free, fair, credible and safe for all Malawians. Political parties need to play their part by campaigning responsibly, and adhering to the electoral code of conduct,” reads the statement made available to Nyasa Times.

Nevin -Issue-based campaign
Nevin -Issue-based campaign

“We are disturbed by recent reported inflammatory and derogatory public comments from some senior individuals, and their supporters, of a number of political parties. Such rhetoric risks stoking violence and threatens the stability that Malawi is known for.”

The statement added: “We urge all parties, candidates and their supporters to refrain from insults and instead focus on the real issues that Malawi needs to address through these elections.”

Recently there have been reports of  increased cases of political rhetoric — both from the government and the opposition — that is inflammatory and intended to bring hatred and misunderstanding as the country move towards elections.

United Democratic Front president (UDF) Atupele Muluzi and Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Uladi Mussa for uttering unfair remarks that the presidential hopeful falsified his date of birth and said he (Atupele) was not fit to rule the country. Atupele described the remarks as defamatory.

But the case is scheduled to go for mediation.

The road to 2014 elections has seen intensive campaign by various contesting political parties.

During the opening of the conflict management training for political party leaders on 26 June 2013, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera asked parties to engage in positive politics where the competition is based on policies and manifestoes.

He warned against negative rhetoric which could degenerate into violence if not properly managed.

Justice Mbendera implored the leaders to influence their members to refrain from acts of violence or uttering statements that can easily bring about unnecessary tension that could affect the process of free and fair elections.

So far, Atupele will stand for the UDF whereas President Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika will lead People’s Party (PP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) respectively.

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