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HRDC refuses to cancel demonstrations

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By Serah Makondetsa:

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY— Demonstrators express their constitutional right

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Tuesday refused to entertain former president Bakili Muluzi’s request to postpone the third round of nationwide demonstrations scheduled for Thursday and pave the way for mediation.

After meeting Muluzi at his BCA residence in Blantyre, HRDC officials vowed to continue mobilising Malawians to hold the demonstrations until Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah resigns for allegedly mismanaging May 21 Tripartite Elections results.

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Muluzi, who called for the dialogue, said, while demonstrations were a human right, violence, was not a solution to the problems which the country faces.

“I have heard all that you have said [and] I hope [that] you will appeal to the people because let us remember what happened in Rwanda. I was president then. It started small and it always starts slowly. We cannot go on like this.

“We cannot have violence as a solution. There are women who do small scale businesses in Limbe Township but are failing because of the current tension. It is not in the spirit of human rights that people suffer along the way,” he said.

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However, HRDC officials, led by Chairperson Timothy Mtambo, said the demand for Ansah to resign was non-negotiable because Malawians had lost trust in her leadership.

Mtambo said the demand for Ansah to resign was not for the coalition but rather a reflection of how Malawians feel about the way she managed the election results.

“Malawians cannot entrust Ansah with other elections [and] that is why we are demanding her resignation. These demonstrations would not end. We are actually having other demonstrations this coming Thursday [tomorrow]. If she cannot resign then the demonstrations will go on and on,” he said.

The coalition asked Muluzi to ask Ansah to resign as that would be the first step to putting to rest the political tension in the country.

“The message that we would want you to help us with is to talk to Dr Jane Ansah to step down as we continue to find out what happened with the May 21 polls. We have no personal issues with the Mec chair but we simply want her to pave the way for investigations into what transpired during the elections,” Mtambo said.

Muluzi was quick to say the to call for dialogue was his own, dispelling reports on social media that he was representing a certain interested party involved in the political tension.

“I have not been bought or sent by anybody. It is my own initiative and, as a former head of State, I have the mandate to dialogue with so many people for the betterment of the country,” he said.

“So, I want to create a conversation and understand what is going on particularly on what we can do on the issues that Malawians are complaining about,” he said.

Mec declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party the winner of the presidential election.

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