With just four days to the polling day, electoral stakeholders have stepped up efforts to ensure that the court-ordered fresh presidential election is violence-free.
Both the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is in alliance with United Democratic Front (UDF), and Tonse Alliance have appealed to Malawians to avoid violence as the country heads to the election slated for next Tuesday.
In a telephone interview yesterday, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said Malawi must safeguard its peace and that violence does not make any candidate popular.
He said: “Unity, even amidst diversity of opinion, must always prevail. Let Malawians cherish the peace with have. We must allow each other to differ in opinion, choices and desires without resorting to violence.”
Asked what DPP is doing to promote peace, Dausi said they are encouraging their membership to be ambassadors of tolerance and peace.
On his part, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali said Tonse Alliance agreed that during campaign rallies, speakers should carry messages of peace, tolerance and love.
MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM Party counterpart Saulos Chilima, who is also the country’s Vice-President, are president and runningmate, respectively, of the Tonse Alliance which has a nine-party membership.
Munthali said: “We have developed internal mechanisms to handle fraud as well as violence aimed at disturbing the electoral process. I implore President Peter Mutharika to preach peace and love and avoid inciting violence through inflammatory and intimidatory language.”
However, when asked what mechanisms they have put in place to resolve electoral disputes, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chief elections officer Sam Alfandika yesterday said the commission will communicate to stakeholders in due course.
But last week, newly-appointed MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale said the commission is committed to being impartial, neutral and independent in its operations and decision-making as provided by the Constitution and subsidiary electoral laws.
He said: “We remain committed to engaging stakeholders and we approach the process with an open mind to embrace any ideas from stakeholders that will contribute and enhance credibility of this election.”
Kachale said they have since met with all candidates in the election namely President Peter Mutharika, who is leading the DPP and UDF Alliance, Chakwera and Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) president Peter Kuwani.
Meanwhile, National Institute for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust public relations officer Grace Hara says the trust has intensified peace-building meetings in districts that are considered politically volatile. The districts include Salima, Mponela in Dowa, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mangochi, Karonga, Mzuzu in Mzimba and Rumphi.
On its part, the Media Council of Malawi (MCM), which is a member of the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof), says it is engaging the media to adhere to an agreed code of conduct.
A survey by the Institute for Policy and Research (Ipor), released on Monday this week indicates that 58 percent of Malawians prefer that aggrieved parties should resort to peaceful means in electoral disputes during the fresh presidential poll.