Malawi Electoral Commission to train party leaders in conflict management ahead of 2014 polls

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it will train secretaries general of all political parties in order to build their capacity in conflict management as the nation prepares for the first ever tripartite elections next year.

MEC Chairman Justice Maxon Mbendera said Friday, the training would help party leaders to effectively manage electoral related conflicts which usually exacerbated during elections.

Mbendera was speaking in Blantyre during the triple launch of 2014 Tripartite Elections, Civic and Voter Education Strategy and the commission’s five-year Strategic Plan.

The MEC chair said besides training secretaries general, the Commission has also resuscitated the National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF) one of whose objectives is to resolve electoral related conflicts at national level.

Justice Mbendera: MEC to offer training
Justice Mbendera: MEC to offer training

He observed that elections were, by their very nature, a fertile breeding ground for conflicts as had been seen in most African nations without the exception of Malawi.

The MEC chair said conflicts were a great challenge to democratic elections and different communities in Africa are often prone to conflicts which jeopardize their nation building and social harmony.

“Electoral related conflicts are a challenge facing democratic elections.  As we all know, Africa’s diverse societies are often prone to conflict. Such conflicts threaten nation building and social harmony.  Malawi is no exception in this,” he said.

The launch brought together all stakeholders who matter in elections in Malawi such as political parties, civil society organizations, the media, government, traditional leaders, development partners and diplomats.

During the country’s second democratic general elections in 1999, the electoral body was overwhelmed with electoral petitions and as a mitigating factor in 2000 it established Multi-Party Liaison Committees (MPLCS) in all the country’s districts during the first ever Local Government Elections.

The Electoral Commission is empowered by Section 76 2(c) of the Malawi Constitution to determine electoral petitions and complaints.

The main purpose of creating MPLCs was to manage and resolve electoral related conflicts at the grassroots level on behalf of the Commission.

“The MPLCs have since worked very well and the Commission intends to strengthen them for the Tripartite Elections,” said Justice Mbendera.

MEC has already started training MPLCs from selected districts so that they operate effectively and efficiently ahead of the polls.

MPLCs comprise of District Commissioner or the Chief Executive Officer, Director of Administration of a council, District Information Officers, chairpersons of all political parties in the district, Officer-in-Charge of Police, representative of NICE, Public Affairs Committee, Criminal Investigation Officers and representatives of Traditional Authorities.

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