Treat all political parties equally: Anglican Church urges Malawian authorities

As political parties gear up for next year’s tripartite elections, the Anglican Church in Malawi has called on electoral stakeholders to treat all participating parties equally to avoid disputes.

Preparations are underway for the polls but the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is yet to announce commencement of official campaign period despite all the major parties already conducting their campaign rallies in full swing.

The church challenges every electoral stakeholder to play their respective roles responsibly throughout the electoral calendar in pursuit of credible, free and fair elections.

In particular, the church urges the police and those permitting use of political rally venues to ensure political parties have equal access to security and the venues respectively.

Bishop Malasa: Level playing ground
Bishop Malasa: Level playing ground

“The Synod urges those in authority of political campaign venues to treat all political parties equally by giving them equal access to the venues and security,” says the church in a communiqué.

The communiqué was issued at the end of the Fourth Synod Meeting for the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Shire held in Mangochi early this month.

The church says an election is a process and not an event hence the need for sober approach by all the stakeholders.

It says the role of local authorities, the police and media during this period is paramount and called for their thoughtful approach to the electoral calendar and activities.

“The police are particularly asked to be professional by proving security to all parties and every Malawian whether asked or not as that responsibility has been entrusted unto them by the laws of the land,” the church said in its communiqué signed by the Right Rev Brighton Vitta Malasa, Bishop of the Diocese and President of the Synod of the Diocese of Upper Shire and also Chairman of the Anglican Council in Malawi.

The synod also urges the public media houses (Malawi Broadcasting Corporation television and radio stations) to provide equal opportunity to all political parties and aspirants.

“It must be noted that it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that Malawi has free and fair elections,” reads the communiqué.

With the voter registration underway, the synod further encourages all eligible voters to register en mass so that they vote next year as it is their constitutional right.

The church further asks political parties and politicians to desist from use of derogatory remarks, abusive language, personal insults and actions that would provoke anger and violence during the entire process.

It discourages character assassination but issue and policy based campaign remarks that will give hope to all Malawians.

Argues the Anglican Diocese: “Such kind of campaigns is what is expected as opposed to personal character based remarks which offer no solutions to problems facing Malawians.

“The Aspirants should respect each other during the campaign period, as we are all Malawians and we need to join hands if we are to develop our country regardless of different political affiliations,” the communiqué reads in part.

The church says it is its wish that Malawians, particularly politicians, conduct themselves in a manner that will help to maintain peace, law and tranquility.

“Aspirants and their political parties are also asked to remember that their political opponents are also Malawians and must uphold that fact,” it advises.

Next year’s May 20 elections will be highly contested with four main presidential candidates leading the pack in current President Joyce Banda of Peoples Party (PP), Malawi Congress Party newly elected candidate Dr Lazarus Chakwera, youthful Atupele Muluzi from the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Prof Peter Mutharika. All the four parties have governed the country.

The synod meets once every two years to deliberate on pastoral, administrative as well as social-economic matters affecting the church and life in general.

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