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HRDC, Attorney General meeting fails to take place

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

RESERVED HIS RULING—Justice Chikopa

A meeting between the Attorney General (AG) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to discuss the future of demonstrations did not take place in Lilongwe Wednesday when the rights defenders demanded that Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) should first withdraw an application for an injunction against next week’s planned airport and border shutdown before the meeting could proceed.

On Monday, MRA applied to the High Court for an injunction to restrict the anti-Jane Ansah protests to outside its premises at the border posts.

The border and airport shutdowns are expected to take place from August 26 to 30.

Lawyer representing HRDC, Khwima Nchizi, Wednesday said there was no way the dialogue could have proceeded when the government agency such as MRA had applied for another injunction on the same issue.

“We were ready for the dialogue as per court decision but, as we were preparing for today’s meeting, MRA served us with an order that we should go for hearing on the same issues tomorrow.

“So, we believe, the government is playing double standards on the matter; hence, we could not continue to discuss while we have an order placed in our hands,” Nchizi said.

Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Lovemore Chikopa last week reserved his ruling in a case where AG Kalekeni Kaphale sought to stop the anti- Ansah demonstrations.

Lawyer from the AG’s office, Loness Michongwe, said it was unfortunate that the meeting ended abruptly.

A similar interface meeting between HRDC and the AG failed to take place following the bombing of HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo’s house in Lilongwe last week by unknown assailants.

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