Chikwawa Diocese Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) on Thursday brought together various religious leaders to chart the way forward in achieving free and fair elections next year.
The religious leaders were drawn from two Lower Shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje with support from the Catholic Relief Services through the Episcopal Conference of Malawi.
Speaking during the meeting, Pastoral Secretary for Chikwawa Diocese, Fr. Shadreck Malata advised religious leaders to resist any manipulations from politicians in a bid to attain a conflict- free electoral process.
“The deliberations centred on very pertinent issues pertaining to elections. It is important that religious leaders should tread carefully in the whole process,” Malata said. “We should not attach our church to any political grouping but rather save everyone equally for a better Malawi.”
Fr. Malata said the church being an institution that promotes love, peace and unity, they needed to be exemplary in civic educating their members to strive towards maintaining peace and participate in the electoral process.
Sheikh Abdulah Shati of Nsanje Boma Mosque and Reverend James Mingu of Chikwawa Mitole CCAP thanked CCJP for the meeting, saying the forum would help the leaders in making informed decisions so that the May 21, 2019 general elections were free, fair and credible.
Meanwhile, participants to the meeting have asked Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to urgently clear the rigging machine fears in an attempt to guarantee free and fair polls next year.
In response, MEC officials for Chikwawa and Nsanje, Basiano Namuthuwa and Temwa Mpheruka assured the religious leaders that the organization was doing everything possible to ensure the electoral process was transparent.
On his part, CCJP’s Chikwawa Diocesan Secretary, Lewis Msiyadungu urged all religious and community leaders to have peaceful elections in May, 2019.
“In any electoral process, conflicts are likely to happen; so, we thought it wise to have these people here so that together we can discuss the issues that may arise and how best we can deal with them,” he said.
“We may have these meetings now and again as one way of monitoring the electoral process as we go towards the May 21, 2019 Tripartite Elections so that the polls were free and fair,” added Msiyadungu.