By Emmanuel Chirwa:
President Peter Mutharika, who is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torchbearer, and his Tikonze People’s Movement counterpart, Cassim Chilumpha, have been ruled out of this evening’s third and final presidential debate scheduled for Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
The debate’s taskforce Chairperson, Teresa Ndanga, Thursday said the absence of Mutharika and Chilumpha means that six candidates will take part in the debate organised ahead of May 21 Tripartite Elections.
“He [Chilumpha] sent us an apology that he is outside the country. It is the same reason that, although he didn’t tell us, he didn’t come for the second debate. As for President Peter Mutharika, they still haven’t come back to us but the door remains open,” Ndanga said.
DPP indicated that they would shun the presidential debates and those for running mates because they had reservations with the organisation of the event.
Ndanga has since hinted that the last debate would revolve around the youth and human rights issues.
“This is so because the youth have registered in large numbers this year and for some of them, it would be their first time to cast a vote. Thus, they need a very informed decision on the person to vote for,” she said.
“There are also some emerging issues which we did not tackle previously. This time, they will be taken on board. The country needs to be fully informed on the status of what the candidates have in store for us. Malawians also need to be addressed on long-term solutions to issues hampering the country’s progress.”
Malawi’s population has the youth in majority. Recent Housing and Population Census indicated that out of the population of 17, 563, 149, 8, 669, 215 are aged 18 and above, translating to 49 percent.
Malawi Electoral Commission’s preliminary results of the registration exercise of the elections show that 3.7 million youths registered out of 6.8 million electorates, representing 54 percent.
The presidential debates series started on Friday last week with Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera, UTM’s Saulos Chilima and UDF’s Atupele Muludzi participating.
The second phase held on Tuesday involved independent candidate, Reverend Kaliya, Umodzi Party’s John Chisi and Mbakuwaku Movement for Development’s Peter Kuwani.
Chakwera, Muluzi, Chilima, Kuwani, Kaliya and Chisi are expected to participate in today’s debate.
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