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Malawi must do more on democracy—Norway

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The Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Kikkan Haugen, has said lack of progress in securing the basic needs in life for the majority is the greatest threat to democratic development not only in Malawi but Africa as whole.

Speaking on Tuesday at the reception marking Norway’s Constitution Day in Lilongwe, Haugen said real democracy is defined by increased focus on economic aspects on a micro or local level and on good governance.

“I am very proud that Norway is a third biggest bilateral partner to Malawi and we support key areas in Malawi like, health, human rights, education, food security, etc. We are committed to working in Malawi but we will also speak up when we think there are things that need to be done and changed,” Haugen said.

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He said the fact that 17 percent or even more of the population will this year be food insecure in the country, that drugs are stolen in health facilities instead of being administered to the right people and that corruption is still rampant whereby unscrupulous individuals dine on public coffers meant for the poor is a sign that the country needs to do more on democracy.

The ambassador said Malawi has potential to be a haven for its every human but he underscored the need for reducing the gap between the well-off and the majority of poor in the country, which he described as big and increasing.

He said Norway will stand with the Malawi Government when challenges like these are taken actively on board.

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On the Constitution Day, Haugen said it is important to celebrate the day because the constitution adopted in 1814 laid foundations for Norway by creating a major frame for a Norwegian national identity and emphasising the importance of balancing power between government on the one side and citizen’s individual rights and obligations on the other side.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francis Kasaila, said, through the day, government has learnt that Norway has put its constitution as a centrepiece of their development activities.

“It is important as a government that our programmes must be implemented around the constitution, our constitution is one of the best constitutions and inclusive as everyone was consulted during formulation and Parliament approved it, therefore we should not run away from it when implementing programmes,” Kasaila said.

He said Norway is one of the country’s development partners which are very ready to assist in different capacities, citing poverty reduction and governance programmes, and systems that will ensure that in few years to come Malawi is no longer hunger-stricken but rather food-secure.

Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway, popularly known as Norway’s birthday, and is an official national holiday observed on May 17 each year.

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