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HRDC warns of more protests

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By Wezzie Gausi, James Chauluka & Festone Makelezo:

GIFT TRAPENCE

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has urged Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to be ready to hold the fresh presidential election on June 23 as set by Parliament or face nationwide demonstrations.

HRDC leaders made the sentiments Wednesday during protests that the rights body organised in cities and several districts across the country where they presented petitions to authorities demanding that Parliament should not change the date which it set on Tuesday.

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In Lilongwe, HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said the country has suffered a lot and that people are ready to vote on June 23 “regardless of whether someone agrees or not”.

“We are calling on all Members of Parliament to take note of our petition. We are ready to hold demonstrations until the country goes to the fresh election.

“We also want President Peter Mutharika to rescind his decision of maintaining Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje as Mec commissioners since they were declared incompetent by the courts. The President must be reminded that he is not above the law,” Trapence said.

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Receiving the petition at Parliament Building, Member of Parliament (MP) for Lilongwe City Center Alfred Jiya said he would present it to the Office of the Speaker for appropriate action.

In all the places where the demonstrations took place, the turnout was generally low if compared with others that HRDC has organised before while in Blantyre, the march was postponed to an undisclosed date at the eleventh hour.

HRDC chairperson for the South, Masauko Thawe, said people in the region had decided to wait and see if Parliament would put in place the necessary legislation for the holding of the fresh presidential election and if Mutharika would asset to bills if any were to be sent to him.

On his part, HRDC Northern Region chairperson, Happy Mhango, threatened that the organisation will continue holding demonstrations in constituencies whose representatives reject legislation that would help in the holding of the court-ordered poll.

“MPs must remember that they are occupying those positions because citizens put them there. We need to do our business by remembering those who helped us to be there,” Mhango said.

Meanwhile, after the peaceful demonstration in Rumphi, police confirmed the death of one protester who was hit by a car which carried public address system equipment.

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