Lilongwe — President Dr. Joyce Banda who is also Presidential Candidate for the ruling People's Party (PP), and the eleven other contesting candidates on Saturday signed Peace Declaration in Lilongwe ahead of May 20 Elections.
The Agreement, dubbed Lilongwe Peace Declaration (LPD) was signed at Civo Stadium in the presence of PAC, the clergy, contesting party Secretary Generals, international elections observers and respective party loyalists. The PAC Peace Declaration titled: Taking a Stand Against Violence in Malawi During and After Elections, seeks to engage the contesting party leaders in ensuring both a peaceful democratic elections and a political process thereafter that serves the national good.
Reads the LPD in part: "We, the Presidential Candidates in Malawi's May 2014 Tripartite Elections... recognizing that free, fair and peaceful elections depend on political parties providing firm leadership to the impartial enforcement of the existing electoral laws by state institutions;
"... Committed to the importance of sustaining Malawi's proud reputation of being a God-loving, peaceful democratic nation, declare that it is time to take a definitive stand against the possibility of electoral violence, impunity and injustice in our beloved Malawi, because these acts are detrimental to the peace, welfare and sustained development of the people of Malawi."
The document also commits the candidates to declaring that ahead of and immediately following the elections on May 20, 2014, they shall forcefully and publicly speak out against all acts of elections-related violence, impunity and injustice, and that they will seek to collaborate with the Malawi Police Service and allied law enforcement agencies to professionally discharge their duties without fear or favour.
The twelve presidential candidates signed the LPD one after another in the alphabetical order of their respective party names and the process was witnessed by the Arch Bishop of the Catholic Arch Diocese of Lilongwe, His Grace Tarcisius Ziyaye, PAC Chairperson, The Very Rev. Felix Chingota, and Rev. Prof. Silas Ncozana.
In his closing remarks after the signing ceremony, PAC Chairperson Rev. Chingota appealed to the party leaders to abide by the Declaration and that whoever emerged winner in the elections should embrace those who lost and vice versa.
"We all know that each one of you is prepared to win in this election," said Rev. Chingota, "But it is obvious that among the twelve of you only one shall emerge winner and eleven shall lose. The question is: How prepared are you to lose?"
However, the PAC Chair added that the responsibility of maintaining peace and tranquility before, during and after the elections did not rest in the hands of the party leaders alone but in the hands of all Malawi citizens too.
"We may differ in political inclinations but we are all one and when one wins, the victory is for us all to celebrate," he said.
Earlier before the actual signing of the Declaration there were national inter-denominational prayers under the theme: Enhancing Peace and Unity in the Elections Through God's Intervention and all the sermons centred on the need for maintaining peace and tranquility.