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Airport, border demonstrations

Bakili Muluzi courts HRDC for talks

MTAMBO—We will not waste time with any form of dialogue that has got no direction

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has declined former president Bakili Muluzi’s fresh call for a meeting over the coalition’s plans to hold demonstrations that would shut-down Malawi’s airports and border posts from August 26 to 30 2019.

Muluzi, who hosted HRDC recently to try and convince them to ease down on the demonstrations and pave the way for dialogue, penned the coalition’s leadership yesterday calling for the fresh talks, saying the next wave of protests could hurt the country.

“I learnt with great concern, once again, about your intentions to shut down the airports and borders on 26th August 2019,” Muluzi says in the letter addressed to HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo.

“For the sake of this country may I propose another meeting between your team and myself to find solutions to this impasse. We should endeavour to work at finding peaceful lasting solutions that will keep our country together. As I mentioned to you when we met the last time, as a country we will always have problems and differences, and to resolve such differences, dialogue remains the key.”

In reaction, Mtambo told The Daily Times Monday that, while they were equally concerned that the demonstrations could hurt the economy, they could not forfeit their right to holding peaceful demonstrations against impunity.

“To respond to the question of dialogue by him [Muluzi], I am saying [that] we are not going to have any dialogue with him until he gives us the feedback of what he discussed with [President Peter] Mutharika. When we met with Muluzi, he promised us to meet Mutharika and he, indeed, met with Mutharika. Up to date, no Malawian is aware of what Muluzi and Mutharika discussed. So, we will not waste time with any form of dialogue that has got no direction. We said we believe in dialogue but we are not going to dialogue with anyone just for the sake of it. We said the issue of Jane Ansah [resigning] was non-negotiable,” Mtambo said.

Nonetheless, Mtambo said he was grateful to the former Malawi leader for sympathising with him over the torching of his car at his Lilongwe residence last week.

HRDC is organising the protests to push for Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Ansah’s resignation for allegedly mismanaging May 21 tripartite elections results.

HRDC wants to hold such demonstrations after its previous rounds of protests failed to have Ansah resign.

Ansah, however, has insisted she will not resign and branded such calls as mob justice. Ansah said there is need to wait for the outcome of the electoral case which the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court in Lilongwe is hearing.

Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima petitioned the court seeking nullification of the election results. Mec declared Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party the winner of the elections by 38 percent against 35 percent for Chakwera and 20 percent for Chilima.

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