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CSOs garner support for demos

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have appealed to all Malawians to take part in December 13 nationwide demonstrations organised by the Public Affairs Committee (Pac).
The protests, which initially were only in support of Electoral Reforms and Local Government Act amendments, now include leadership and social issues.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Youth and Society (Yas) and National League for Democracy and Development said yesterday the protests are the best platform to push for responsive leadership.
“We would like to appeal to all patriotic citizens to come out en masse and stand up for their right to a free and just electoral system, during the marches organised by the Public Affairs Committee, which are scheduled for December 13, 2017. This is a great opportunity for every citizen to demonstrate how patriotic, he or she is as we peacefully demand a transformative and responsive leadership in this beloved country of ours,” reads a statement they released on Saturday.
Human Rights Activist Billy Mayaya read the statement at a press conference in Lilongwe. CHRR Executive Director, Timothy Mtambo and his Cedep counterpart, Gift Trapence were also present at the press conference.
The CSOs have since asked for an extension of the current meeting of Parliament in order to pass all the electoral reforms bills.
“We would like to caution government that if the electoral reforms bills are not passed, we shall continue to exert pressure through acts of civil disobedience after 13 December, until such a time when the bills will become law,” reads the statement.
Trapence said the reforms are not for any political party.
“It is important for all Malawians to go into the streets. These bills are for Malawians. That is why Malawians are appealing for them. Government must not resist change,” Trapence said.
On Thursday government circulated three out of the six electoral reforms bills. These include Referendum Bill, The Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill and Assumption of office (Transitional Arrangements) Bill.
Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said Parliament’s business committee will decide when the bills will be tabled.
Meanwhile the three bills are now appearing on parliament’s Order Paper.
The other bills, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill, Elections Management Bill and Constitution (Amendment) are yet to be brought to the House.
The most contentious issue is to do with the change in the country’s electoral system, from a win with a simple majority to the one which provides that a winning presidential candidate should get more than fifty percent of the total votes cast.

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