The United States government has described as unfortunate the decision by President Joyce Banda to shun the debates organised by the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter. Capital radio reported on Wednesday that President Banda was the only candidate who failed to attend a second phase of the debate that took place in Lilongwe on Tuesday night.

It was meant to give presidential candidates a chance to outline policies and strategies they plan to manifest to develop Malawi.

Public Affairs Officer of the US embassy Gabriel Hons-Olivier told Capital radio that the debates were a great opportunity for the electorate to hear what the candidates have to offer and use it to make informed choices for the May 20 polls.

“It is not compulsory but if candidate fails to show up, it deprives the people of a chance to know their policies better” he said.

Three other candidates who missed the first round, including Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika, Tisintha Alliance’s George Mnesa and Davis Katsonga of the Chipani cha Pfuko took part in the second debate.

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