The Irish government has called for tolerance among political stakeholders as Malawi awaits a fresh presidential election as directed by the Constitutional Court in its ruling last month.
Speaking yesterday during a media briefing in Lilongwe ahead of St Patrick’s Day scheduled for this Friday, Irish Ambassador Gerry Cunningham said elections are a high point in any country’s democratic process.
He said: “Malawi has gained a lot of credit over the last six to eight months in adherence to the rule of law. Particularly the profile of the Judiciary, the role of the Malawi Defence Force in protecting the right to assembly and speech and the role of Parliament in taking forward a very complex legal environment.
“There are many issues that need to be addressed in the coming months and our hope is that Malawians will continue to do that in a respectful and tolerant approach that brings together the country as one nation.”
He emphasised on the need to respect individual opinions and creating space for the average Malawians in rural and urban areas.
On February 3 this year, the Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over irregularities that marred the credibility of the results.
Malawi Congress Party and UTM Party leaders Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima respectively, challenged the presidential results in court against the Malawi Electoral Commission’s (MEC) declared winner President Peter Mutharika, who was governing Democratic Progressive Party candidate.
However, the respondents MEC and Mutharika are appealing against the court decision and applied for suspension of the judgement in the Supreme Court of Appeal pending hearing.
On the development, the envoy said the overall goal of Ireland’s current engagement with Malawi is to increase the resilience of poor households to economic, social and environmental shocks in line with Malawi’s growth and development strategy.
Currently, Ireland is providing predictable monthly cash transfers to about 23 000 households in Balaka and Ntcheu districts through the National Social Cash Transfer programme coordinated by the Ministry of Gender.
In 2019 alone, the embassy distributed 22 153 cook stoves and 5 993 portable solar lamps mostly to social cash transfer beneficiaries.
St Patrick’s Day is an annual event organised by the Irish Society as a way of promoting Irish culture in Malawi by showcasing Irish musicians, food and drinks.