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Malawi’s President Holds Out Olive Branch to Opposition

Malawians have reportedly welcomed as good news ongoing peace negotiations between President Bingu Wa Mutharika and opposition political parties. President Mutharika reportedly called for the peace negotiations to resolve the ongoing political impasse between the opposition and the government. The move comes after opposition parliamentarians began an indefinite boycott of parliamentary activities over the failure of the speaker of parliament to rule on Section 65.

A constitutional provision, Section 65 bars legislators from leaving parties that sponsored them into power and joining another party inside Parliament. President Mutharika is expected to lose out if the Speaker of parliament makes his ruling after several members of the opposition were allegedly lured to switch sides. Mustapha Hussein is a senior political science lecturer at the University of Zomba Chancellor College. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Malawians are hopeful about the prospects of the ongoing talks.

“Malawians have reacted positively and they are encouraging the parties in the conflict, that is Bingu Wa Mutharika and the opposition, to continue their dialogue so that solutions can be found to diffuse the tension that has been there,” Mustapha noted.

He said previous peace negotiations between the government and the opposition have fallen below expectations before.

“Based on previous experiences, the tendency has been talking about the need for dialogue. But in the past we haven’t seen the practical steps. Leaders have not walked the talk in other words. So, in this case Malawians are hoping that these talks will address the root causes of the problems that we have been seeing and that they will come up with meaningful alternative or solutions to address the problems,” he said.

Mustapha said Malawians are hopeful that this round of peace negotiations between the government and the opposition would yield positive results.

“We hope that the prospects would be good. We should remember that currently the opposition has been boycotting the sitting of parliament although we have now seen some going into parliament. In the past we’ve seen problems related to the passing of the budget. So we hope that through this dialogue there would be less tension in parliament, a conducive environment for discussion and for deliberation in the House would be created and that our members of parliament would objectively look at the budget and pass it without the tension that surrounded the exercise before. And we hope that political tensions among political parties, the fighting or the fracas that you see among party supporters will subside because of this move,” Mustapha pointed out.

He reiterated the hope of ordinary people for a resolution of the political impasse between the opposition and President Mutharika’s government.

“We hope the results or the outcome of the discussions would be to the benefit of the ordinary Malawian development wise, coming up with meaningful policies, this is our hope. We hope the discussions are not simply done to pave way for passing of the budget and then they return to their old ways, we are hoping for a change in the operation of our political leaders and a new thinking or some sort of new relationship, working relationship between the opposition and the government so that they all have unity of purpose to serve the interest of Malawians,” he said.