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CSOs plan anti- Ansah demonstrations

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By Audrey Kapalamula:

Civil society organisations (CSOs), under Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) banner, have called for nationwide demonstrations on June 20 2019 to force Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Jane Ansah, to resign for allegedly “messing up” the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

At a press briefing in Lilongwe Sunday, HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence said they had organised the demonstrations following Ansah’s refusal to voluntarily resign.

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The coalition has also called for the resignation of all Mec commissioners, arguing that they were part of the mess that characterised the elections.

“As citizens, we have lost trust in Mec chair and her team. We hold that the mess that we have in the country was borne out of the commission. We have become the laughing stock of this world, being a country that has managed its election with Tipp-ex, as acknowledged by the chair herself,” Mtambo said.

The demonstrations will take place in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba.

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The coalition, on June 4 2019, wrote Ansah asking her to resign, arguing that Malawians had lost trust in her stewardship of Mec.

Mtambo said Ansah had refused to voluntarily resign and the coalition would not allow anyone to manipulate the will of people, hence the demonstration.

“The people that were distorting results are not mere citizens but Mec officials. So, we question as to how best Mec can solve its own mess and that is why they have also failed to disclose to the nation how they resolved the 147 concerns,” he said.

Mtambo called upon religious leaders, political parties and citizens to hold a peaceful nationwide demonstration.

He said their move was not contradicting the court process and that the coalition would allow the court to do its job while the citizens exercise their right.

Last week, Mec spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, said Ansah would not resign.

“The chairperson is not resigning. It is high time HRDC stopped behaving as self-appointed authority for public officers. There is overindulgence from this clique to call for resignation or firing of public servants unnecessarily even on matters they don’t have connoisseurship on,” he told The Daily Times.

Mwafulirwa said in the disguise of defending human rights, HRDC were violating rights of public servants and officers.

“Stakeholders that are well versed in elections like Mesn [Malawi Electoral Support Network] and Nice [National Initiative for Civic Education] have commended Mec,” he said.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM have filed a petition in the High Court calling for the nullification of presidential election results that had Mec declaring Peter Mutharika the winner by 38 percent.

MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera finished on second place with 35 percent whereas UTM’s Saulos Chilima earned 20 percent. Chilima also held a press conference in Lilongwe on Friday, urging Ansah to resign over the irregularities in the vote-counting process.

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