By Faith Kadzanja:
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has said it would hold vigils on July 4 and 5 2019 if Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, refuses to resign.
HRDC member Beatrice Mateyu told journalists in Lilongwe that if Ansah still refuses to resign after the latest vigils, they would hold other vigils from July 8 to 12 2019.
“Our demand still stands: Ansah must resign. The Thursday demonstration is historic as we saw a large number of people participating. We also want to communicate to Malawians that, since we expected Jane Ansah to resign and there has been silence, we are going to have vigils on the 4th and 5th of July and, if she still does not resign, the whole week, we are going to go back to the streets,” she said.
Ansah has not resigned despite that the public, led by HRDC, hosted countrywide demonstrations on Thursday demanding her resignation alongside all Mec commissioners over alleged irregularities in the May 21 presidential election.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM leaders joined the demonstrations in Lilongwe on Thursday.
MCP spokesperson Maurice Munthali, Sunday said they had not received an invitation from HRDC to take part in the latest vigils and that, therefore, could not say whether the party would join the vigils.
However, Munthali said considering that HRDC’s demands were valid, MCP was likely to participate in the vigils if invited.
Reacting to the fresh vigils, UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, Sunday said: “We will support anything to do with Jane Ansah’s resignation.”
However, Mec Chairperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, recently told the media that Ansah would not resign.
“The chairperson is not resigning. It is high time HRDC stopped behaving as a 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,” Mwafulirwa told The Daily Times.
He said, in the disguise of defending human rights, HRDC were violating rights of public servants and officers.
“Stakeholders that are well versed in election matters like Mesn [Malawi Electoral Support Network] and [Nice National Initiative for Civic Education] have commended Mec,” Mwafulirwa is quoted as saying.
On May 27, Mec declared Peter Mutharika the winner of the May 21 presidential election by 38 percent against 35 percent and 20 percent for MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima, respectively.
Chakwera and Chilima filed petitions at the High Court, seeking nullification of the results.
The Constitutional Court sitting in Lilongwe ruled on Friday that the case should continue, dismissing Mec and Mutharika’s petitions objecting to Chakwera and Chilima’s petitions challenging the presidential election results.
Thousands of Malawians attended the demonstration including Chakwera and Chilima.