By Benson Linje:
The United Kingdom, through British Peace Support Team (BPST), is, from Monday to Thursday, supporting a national, election-focused command exercise that has brought together officers from Malawi Defence Force (MDF), Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to draw together each organisation’s election preparatory work and exercise multi-agency working during the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The table-top exercise, facilitated by experts from BPST, will examine, validate and test core national capabilities and staff competencies at strategic, tactical and operational levels of command by giving participants a chance to practice their roles in likely scenarios that could occur before, during and after the election.
Some of the primary areas to be exercised include command and control, decision-making, escalation and de-escalation approaches, media management, community engagement and intelligence.
Speaking when he officially opened the exercise Monday, the Inspector General of Police, Rodney Jose, said the exercise was important as it would provide knowledge and skills on effectively contributing towards a fair, violence free and credible elections on May 21.
“Elections are not a domain of Malawi Electoral Commission alone. They are a domain of several other stakeholders. It is, therefore, important to secure support from all key stakeholders and develop a single shared vision on how, together, we can make the entire electoral process successful,” Jose said.
Leader for the Exercise Delivery Team from BPST–Africa, Steven O’Donoghue, said the exercise was part of the UK (United Kingdom)’s broader package of support to Malawi to conduct free and credible elections in May.
He expressed optimism that Malawi would have a relatively safe election through the strategies put in place by the MPs, MDF and Mec.
“This process this week is to exercise critical decision-making in relation to electoral matters over the three phases of the election— this phase we are now, the pre-election phase, the actual election day and, thirdly, the post-election phase,” he said.
The exercise builds on the Police Election Strategy Workshop that was held last year, which led to the development of an Election Strategy by MPS, MDF and other stakeholders. Apart from supporting the election strategy workshop, the UK has contributed £2.77 million of UKAID to the United Nations Development Programme-managed Elections Basket Fund that supports Mec to deliver credible elections.
The UK also contributed £1.5 million in UKaid’s joint contribution with United States Agency for International Development to improve the credibility and integrity of the 2019 elections by supporting civil society oversight and civic voter education; and, among others, funded national ID project which allowed for the Biometric Voter Registration, the only means of registration that has led to the creation of a reliable voters roll for the first time.