Tuesday, June 23, 2020

SADC Calls for Calm in Malawi Vote
 24 JUN, 2020 - 00:06
Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa, who also chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, has urged stakeholders in yesterday’s Malawi presidential elections to be politically-tolerant and channel any grievances arising from the polls through relevant bodies.

Almost a year after Malawian President Peter Mutharika’s disputed election victory that was annulled in February by that country’s Constitutional Court, Malawians cast their votes again to choose a new leader.

President Mutharika, who is vying for a second term is up against opposition coalition leader Mr Lazarus Chakwera in an election high on emotions.

Although the opposition embraced the February annulment of the presidential results, President Mutharika described it as a “serious subversion of justice” which marked the death of the country’s democracy leading to the building of tensions ahead of yesterday’s poll.

In a statement issued on Monday, President Mnangagwa said as Malawians vote, SADC stands in solidarity with its people and remains engaged with all stakeholders in that country.

“SADC also urges stakeholders to remain politically-tolerant and peaceful in the remaining campaign period, and to exercise calm and restraint during and after election day.

“Furthermore, SADC encourages all candidates, their supporters and other stakeholders to channel any grievances regarding the electoral process and its final outcomes through the appropriate legal channels,” the President said.

Malawians have gone to vote under the dark cloud of Covid-19, a global pandemic that has not spared Africa.

To curb the spread of the highly-contagious disease, nations have introduced a raft of measures such as social distancing, limits on the number of people in public gatherings, regular washing of hands and also wearing face masks.

President Mnangagwa called on stakeholders in Malawi to embrace innovative voting measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“SADC remains engaged with stakeholders in Malawi, and reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Malawi in this period of uncertainty and risk caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In this regard, SADC commends all stakeholders for their efforts in ensuring that the people of Malawi exercise their democratic right to vote in the face of challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“SADC encourages all stakeholders to apply innovative election campaign and voting measures that minimise chances of the spread of the virus”.

There have been concerns in some circles over how Malawi will manage logistical and safety challenges of conducting an election in the throes of a worldwide pandemic.

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