UN says solution lies with Malawians

By Thom Chiumia, Nyasa Times

United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Richard Dictus has said the responsibility of finding solutions lies with the Malawi people themselves and that the UN is only facilitating dialogue between the government of Malawi and civil society organizations in the midst of the country’s economic challenges.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Lilongwe on Thursday, monitored by Nyasa Times through Zodiak radio streaming online, Dictus said the dialogue was initiated when President Bingu wa Mutharika spoke to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on the Malawi situation when civil society wanted to hold nationwide vigil on August 17.

Thousands of people were expected to gather in the country’s three main centres, amid fears of a repeat of July’s deadly clashes with authorities. Groups want government reforms to address issues such as fuel and foreign exchange shortages.

Dictus said the UN chief was “very touched” as he “considers himself to be a friend of Malawi and Malawians.”

Dictus: Dialogue going on well

He said the dialogue led by Joao Honwana, UN Director of the Africa Division Department of Political Affairs has been “successful”, so far.

“There is great openness and preparedness from all side for dialogue,” Dictus said.

He said the join communiqué  which was released “was developed by Malawians talking to each other.”

“UN will continue to assist the parties to have further conversation,” he said, adding that “solution lies with  Malawians.”

“We are only providing a neutral platform and a conducive atmosphere for difficult discussions,” he said

Dictus said “the progress that we will be making will be communicated.”

The UN envoy expressed confidence that dialogue will end successfully, saying “Malawians have mediated difficulties amongst themselves in the past.”

Asked by Zodiak  ournalist  Wisdom Chimgwede to give an analysis of the political situation in the country, Dictus said: “Political and democratic process is increasing becoming more mature. A growing democracy can sometimes be messy. Everything that you destroy is difficult to build up again.”

“Malawi is considered as an example to other African nations on tackling of the Millennium Development Goals such that disturbances, civil strife and disagreements could reverse the gains made which is a concern of the Secretary General,” he said.

During the news conference, Dictus also read a statement issued by  UN secretary-general.

“The secretary-general is encouraged by this positive development which reflects the commitment of both sides to engage constructively in the search for a peaceful solution to the country’s current difficulties,”  Dictus quoted the statement.

He said Ban “calls on the Malawian stakeholders to continue their efforts to create a political and social atmosphere conducive to addressing the multifaceted challenges in the country.”

Ban noted the “UN’s readiness to continue its facilitation efforts as requested by the parties.”

The UN Secretary General’s envoy,  Honwana has also met embattled Vice President Joyce Banda,  Foreign Minister Etta Banda, civil society, church and political leaders,  according to Dictus.

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