Malawi’s Army Chief Tells Politicians Not to Interfere in Military Affairs

The commander of Malawi’s army has criticized what he says is interference from government officials into the affairs of the military. General Vincent Nundwe says this could incite anarchy and should stop.

Nundwe expressed the concern Saturday during a televised parade of newly commissioned military officers at the Malawi Armed Forces College in Salima district.

At the gathering, which President Lazarus Chakwera also attended as commander-In chief of the defense force, Nundwe said the military has long been receiving instructions from government authorities to promote some officers.

“Letters have been coming from the office of the president and Cabinet, addressed to the army commander, instructing him to promote some officers. We can’t accept that. We issue promotions to military officers ourselves,” he said.

Nundwe said such tendencies violate military etiquette and can cause conflict.

“We don’t want conflicts in Malawi. If you have time, use that energy for something productive, not bringing conflict into the military, no. I have already given an example about Ethiopia, where military officers are fighting one another. I can’t accept that,” he said.

Nundwe also voiced concern about some military officers lobbying for higher positions through politicians.

“If you are a military officer, there is a Command Element here which recommends you to the Defense Council if you are worth [a] promotion. You do not go and lobby from a politician as if you are working with politicians. So, to you politicians, if such officers approach you, please desist from engaging them,” Nundwe said.

In March of last year, Nundwe himself became a victim of political interference when then-President Peter Mutharika fired him as army commander for allegedly allowing the military to protect demonstrators protesting the results of the 2019 presidential elections.

Incumbent President Chakwera reinstated Nundwe in September 2020, after Chakwera defeated Mutharika during the rerun of presidential elections three months earlier, saying the aim was to restore justice to the operations of the Malawi Defense Force.

But Nundwe said Saturday that the Malawi Defense Force is an institution governed by the law and is supposed to serve all people in the country without interference.

In his remarks, Chakwera said his administration will ensure that soldiers receive the necessary support to enable them to deliver on their mandate without any political influence.

“All I expect from you is to stay true to your mandate, stay true to our nation’s citizens, stay true to our nation’s Constitution, and stay true our nation’s flag. I know that doing so involves giving up so much more than we can ever repay,” he said.

Chakwera told military officers that they should know that they are the pride of Malawi.

Source: Voice of America

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