With just a year to go before Malawi holds its first ever tripartite polls, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has doubted the reliability of the elections attributable to the leisurely pace of the preparations by government and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

PAC, an umbrella organisation for the major faith communities represented in the country, says it has noted with concern the slow preparations of the polls, which, if not improved, may compromise the outcome of the exercise.

“For instance,  delays  in  preparation  of  the  elections  budget  has  remained a cause of  concern…Holding  free  and  fair elections requires  proper  preparations  by  the  commission.

“The  pace  at  which   Malawi  is  moving  towards  the  2014  tripartite  elections  remains  questionable  as  to  whether  the process  will  yield  the  desired  results,” PAC said Monday in a statement signed by Acting Chairperson, Sheikh Imuran Shareef Mahommed and Publicity Secretary, Rev Maurice  Munthali made available to Nyasa Times.

Last week, Malawi Government disclosed it had set aside more than K14 billion to finance the forthcoming elections, which will be the fourth since the dawn of multiparty politics in 1994.

But PAC has warned that any delays in the electoral process has big implications on the outcome of elections and urges  MEC to speed  up  the  process  as the exercise will  be  a  big  task  in  Malawi’s  electoral  history.

The grouping, founded in 1992 by the religious community and other pressure groups in the country then, also hopes that MEC will strive to ensure free and fair elections by working together with all stakeholders.

“PAC  calls  upon  all  stakeholders in  the  electoral  process to  work  tirelessly  so  that  the  tripartite  elections  are  held  in  a  free  and  fair  manner,” it says.

On the political front, PAC has hailed political parties in the country that have begun strengthening their structures through holding conventions to elect their leaders.

“PAC supports such democratic mechanisms and believes that conventions remain lifeblood for strengthening intraparty democracy.

“PAC, therefore, encourages political parties to continue holding conventions in a fair manner in a bid to enhance competition.

“It is the view of PAC that democracy should begin within political parties themselves before it can translate into  interparty democracy.

In  view  of  this  PAC  would  like   to  commend  all  political  parties  that  have  held  their  conventions   and  those that  plan to  hold  such  meetings,” says the body.

So far, only two of the country’s major parties, the ruling Peoples Party (PP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF), have already conducted their conventions while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) are scheduled to hold theirs this week and next month respectively.

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