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Malawi:Main Opposition sets Conditions for Dialogue

Malawi’s main opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) party has reportedly said that there will be no peace talks with the government unless President Bingu Wa Mutharika drops all charges against Vice President Cassim Chilumpha and stops using the police to harass members of the party. This follows an attempt by the parliamentary Public Affairs Committee to mediate between the UDF and President Mutharika. President Mutharika had accused the UDF for causing political tension in the country.

Sam Mpasu is the general secretary of the UDF. He said a meeting took place between the UDF and the Public affairs committee, but he was unhappy about how it was reported in the media.

“What I can confirm is that indeed there was a meeting between the UDF leadership and the Public Affairs Committee. But the way it came out in the paper is a distortion. It was as if the UDF did put up a condition or precondition to the talks, which is not the case,” Mpasu said.

He said it would be inappropriate for him to divulge any information about the meeting.

“Since I’m not allowed to disclose what really went on, we thought secret and confidentiality would help matter along. Basically, all what I can say is that there were no preconditions set. All we ask was a simple question, is there going to be any talks? Is there a conducive environment for such talks or is there a need for some confidence building measures to be made first?” Mpasu noted.

He said the UDF has always sought peaceful talks with the government to help solve the political tension in the country.

“We’ve always looked forward to talks, we’ve asked for talks and we’ve always been disappointed. This is the third year now that we’ve been asking for talks. Every time we asked for talks the other side does not respond positively. So we are not against talks, we’ve always been for talks,” Mpasu said.

He also said the UDF has always been advocating for peace and stability in the country.

“All that is required is political will on both sides. We have the political will, and we want political stability. And I’m sure he needs it more because he’s got the responsibility of running this country… and for him to do that requires peace and stability, and we are willing to help and willing to talk,” he said.

Mpasu said he does not believe President Mutharika wants peace with the UDF.

“When you get a situation where the entire leadership of the UDF is being persecuted left right and center, how do you believe that coming from a person who says he wants reconciliation? You can’t talk about something and act differently and expect to be believed he said,” he said.

Mpasu reiterated the opposition party’s move for reconciliation.

“The UDF’s position has always been that we are for reconciliation. We want stability, and we have tried to approach the president and we have always been rebuffed, within the country and outside the country. We’ve got a long list of date and occasions when we went our way to hold talks with the President and we were let down at the last minute,” he said