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Mec rues politicians’ conduct

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The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has decried the tendency of some politicians who rush to issue negative and unfounded statements that end up causing unnecessary tension

Mec Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, said some politicians rush to speak on election issues even without establishing if the issues are true or not.

“It makes things difficult because people are compelled to hold views which are not really true. Politicians must desist from issuing statements that are unfounded,” she said

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Ansah said, for elections to be credible, stakeholders including political parties, civil society organisations and all Malawians should be involved in processes towards the polls, saying, in that regard, everyone will be party to the outcome.

Malawi goes to the polls in 13 months’ time in an election that will be hotly contested between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and Malawi Congress Party who, for the first time, are fielding candidates in all constituencies in the Southern Region, the ruling party’s stronghold.

In an interview Tuesday at the opening of a five-day orientation workshop for new commissioners and senior election management officials from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region, Ansah said the rush to issue ‘incriminating’ statements put the commission in an awkward position.

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“It is important that all stakeholders are engaged because elections concern everyone. We are particularly interested in providing technical support so that elections are free and fair. We know that elections are important in respective countries’ peace [efforts],” she said.

She could not clearly disclose what such issues are but said they pose a big challenge to the management of elections in the country.

The workshop was organised by the Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF) of Sadc countries with support from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International Idea).

ECF Sadc Executive Committee Chairperson, Notemba Tjipueja of Namibia, corroborated Ansah’s sentiments that common challenges in election management border on stakeholder engagement.

On his part, International Idea Regional Director for Africa and West Asia, Adebayo Olukoshi, stressed the need for constant orientation of election commissioners in Sadc who he said serve limited terms.

“Some of these election officials do not have prior experience and knowledge in election management. That is why it is important that we engage them so that they clearly appreciate relevant processes and activities,” he said.

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