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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Our conduct in elections must be appropriate

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Although the United States of America(USA) and United Kingdom(UK)—two of Malawi’s major development partners—have diplomatically reminded Malawians about the importance of holding elections in a democratic manner, the underlying message is that the two have noted something wrong with our electoral process.

On October 17, Malawians in other constituencies and wards are going to vote in parliamentary as well as local government elections. As the day fast approaches, there have been reported incidences that do not represent the tenets of democracy. For instance, in Nsanje Lalanje, there were reports that some members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were allegedly intimidating Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate through verbal threats and some outrageous offers. This prompted the Leader of Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, to pen the donor community to alert them on the alleged scenario.

But while this incident has been the most highlighted in the run-up to the polls, we should dwell on the need to conduct elections in an accepted and fair manner that represents democracy.

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When Malawians opted for democracy in 1993, among what they agitated for were freedom of association and the right to suffrage. By these, every Malawian who is legally qualified is entitled to participate in the electoral process without being intimidated or otherwise.

Elections are very important in democracy because they accord citizens the right to choose people who will carry the mandate to make decisions and policies that will ensure development for people as well as the country. This said, there is need for all and sundry to respect the electoral process.

It is an indelible and immutable fact that there will always be winners and losers in an election. It is, therefore, important that all political parties in the country must learn to respect elections by, among others, conducting themselves with utmost dignity and civility.

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The calls by our development partners is welcome; however, as a nation, we should not be waiting for others to remind us of basics. Every Malawian, by now, must realise that if we mess up this country, it is us who are going to bear the brunt.

Elections, by nature, are a sensitive process that needs to be handled carefully. Other countries have degenerated into chaos simply because they have failed to handle elections properly. We do not want Malawi to be a bad example.

All said and done, we urge all Malawians to exercise restraint and conduct themselves in the most appropriate manner during the forthcoming elections and beyond.

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