Malawi donors caution on violence ahead of campaigns

Malawi’s donors have called for a violence free elections campaign, saying the responsibility to ensure a peaceful campaign and tripartite election must not solely weigh down on the Malawi Police Service.

“As the official election campaign draws nearer, we urge all those with authority and influence, including traditional leaders to use it for a violence-free campaign where all parties can campaign on an equal footing in all areas.”

The donors said this in a statement released on March 18, 2014 and endorsed by British High Commission, European Union, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, United States of America, Royal Norwegian Embassy and United Nations Malawi.

Malawi budget is 30 per cent donor funded.

US Ambassador Jackson: Signatory to the statement
US Ambassador Jackson: Signatory to the statement

Violence erupted on Sunday shortly after an election rally led by President Joyce Banda at Goliyati village in a stronghold of her rival Peter Mutharika of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

A police officer was axed to death and a protester was shot dead in clashes with stone-throwing opposition activists after police fired tear gas to disperse the hostile crowd.

The protester was killed when police fired into the crowd in what a police spokeswoman described as “self-defence”.

Malawi riot police survey people taking part in a demonstration on February 27, 2014 in Blantyre (AF …

The poor southern African country heads to the polls on May 20 for presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

“We send our condolences to all those affected. We urge all Malawians to shun violence in this election period and for politicians and the public to focus on the issues that matter to Malawians,” reads part of the statement.

They also said maintenance of public order must be a joint effort in close coordination with community leaders, party supporters and local officials.

“We call on all candidates and representatives of political parties, as the prospective leaders of Malawi, to refrain from the use of language or actions that risk inciting violence.”

The Donors said delivering a free, fair, safe and credible election is important to Malawi’s democracy and international reputation.

“We encourage support for those working to achieve that goal, such as the Malawi Electoral Commission, multi-party liaison committees, the police, media and other stakeholders,” they said.

President Banda has assured that her government will not tolerate s acts of political violence to destabilise “the peaceful management of elections and to threaten the peace and security of our people.”

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