Mutharika, Nnesa to turn up for Malawi’s second presidential debate

Malawi’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Peter Mutharika   and George Nnensa who leads the Tisintha Alliance have confirmed that they will turn up for the second phase of the presidential debates to be held next week Tuesday in Lilongwe and the final debate on May 3 in Blantyre.

Mutharika, Nnesa, President Joyce Banda of People’s Party (PP) as well as Davis Katsonga of Chipani Cha Pfuko (CCP) missed the first debate on Tuesday.

But the DPP torch bearer and Nnesa have indicated they will be available for the other phases of the debates.

DPP leader Peter Mutharika:  To attend
DPP leader Peter Mutharika: To attend
Nnesa:  To attend
Nnesa: To attend

Mutharika’s personal assistant Ben Phiri confirmed to Nyasa Times saying his boss will participate in the subsequent debates and was “looking forward.”

Phiri said Mutharika was “keen” to participate and will make himself available.

Nnesa on the other had said he will “definitely” be available for the second phase of the debate.

Katsonga could not confirm. He is reportedly not fit and well.

President Banda has put her foot down that she will not participate in any of the debates because she is too “busy”

Banda’s party said aid they realised that most of the topics to be discussed during the debates could be addressed through other forums including campaign rallies

The presidential debates, conducted in vernacular language (Chichewa) and English, are being funded by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) while the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is providing technical support.

They will be broadcast live on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) radio stations and Times Television.

On May 20 millions of Malawians will vote in the country’s first tripartite elections to select their president, members of parliament and local government councilors. The forthcoming elections are Malawi’s fifth since transitioning to multiparty democracy in 1994.

A record 12 candidates will appear on the presidential ballot but the consensus is there are four leading contenders; the incumbent, Joyce Banda (People’s Party/PP), who succeeded former president Bingu wa Mutharika following his sudden death on April 5, 2012. Peter Mutharika (Democratic Progressive Party/DPP), Lazurus Chakwera (Malawi Congress Party/MCP), and Atupele Muluzi (United Democratic Front/UDF) round out the list of perceived front-runners.

African presidential elections often have a strong incumbency bias, and the most recent Economist Intelligence Unit report on Malawi has predicted a Banda win in a “closely fought” election.

Malawi has a first-past-the-post electoral system, meaning a presidential candidate needs only to win a plurality of the vote to be elected.

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