By Rebecca Chimjeka:
With only seven months remaining before the country goes to next year’s tripartite elections, development partners have expressed worry over cases of political violence.
They have since asked all political party leaders in the country to commit to zero tolerance on political violence.
UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres has said the UN in Malawi is concerned with incidences of political violence that have occurred in Malawi over the last five months.
“We would like to call the attention of the political parties to their obligation as per the political parties’ elections code of conduct to ensure a peaceful environment for political participation and we call upon the national and local-level leadership of all the political parties in Malawi to undertake clear messaging to indicate zero tolerance to political violence,” Torres said.
She said political parties should device mechanisms to ensure that women are not victimised through acts of violence perpetrated by political parties.
Torres has since called on law enforcement agents to react promptly and follow through on reported cases.
She said the attacks that are often targeting female politicians would affect the already limited political space for women’s participation in politics.
Torres encouraged Malawians to be proud of the relatively peaceful environment that has existed since the dawn of multiparty democracy. She urged Malawians to keep the legacy of peace during the election period and beyond.
“We encourage political parties and political leaders to exchange ideas on the future political, social and economic direction of the country and to respect that people will have different opinions on that matter. In this regard, parties are encouraged to disseminate programmes on their respective policy objectives, so the potential voters can educate themselves on the different options,” Torres said.
The United Nations has also asked the media in the country to practice responsible journalism that would not trigger or inspire violent actions.
The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Douglas Johnston has said his government condemns political violence and has asked parties to work and prevent the violence.
“The United States condemns all political violence and urges all parties in Malawi to work to prevent such violence during the campaign season. We urge the Malawi Police Service to promptly investigate all claims of political violence,” Johnston said.
Germany Ambassador to Malawi Jürgen Borsch said his government is equally concerned about the increasing incidents of violence and has called on all candidates, supporters and stakeholders to conduct violence free campaigns.
“Malawi has a reputation as a peaceful country with friendly, warm-hearted people and constructive ways to solve disputes. This international reputation is an invaluable asset; nobody should put it at risk. It is crucial for Malawi to hold peaceful and democratic elections next year, it starts already now with the preparations for free and fair elections. All stakeholders in the political process should exert democratic and peaceful means of selecting candidates at all levels to avoid frustration and violence in this context,” he said.
He added: “The bottom line is, You will never convince voters with hate speech and violence; you will always win people with good ideas and concepts to the well of all, on how to further improve socio-economic development, and – most convincingly – through leading by example.”
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