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No progress on Bakili Muluzi, HRDC second meet

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CONCERNED—Muluzi

Uncertainty hangs over the possibility of a second round of talks between Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and former president Bakili Muluzi over the anti-Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah demonstrations.

HRDC put a pre-condition that they would only attend the meeting if President Peter Mutharika, Ansah and Public Affairs Committee (Pac) formed part of the discussions on the current political impasse.

But over a week after HRDC set the terms for the discussions, the coalition’s vice chairperson for the Southern Region, Masauko Thawe, said they had not heard anything from Muluzi on their demands.

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“We are just waiting for him to address our demands. We have not heard anything but are going ahead with our planned demonstrations on Wednesday,” he said.

Pac Chairperson, Reverend Felix Chingota, said he was not aware of any movement in the matter as he had just returned from a trip outside the country.

He referred The Daily Times to Pac Executive Director, Robert Phiri, who asked for more time, saying he, too, had been out of the country.

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Muluzi Sunday was not readily available for a comment. He proposed the second round of talks with HRDC, saying he was concerned that the wave of protests was hurting the country’s economy.

He was particularly worried with HRDC’s proposed border and airport shutdown, which was scheduled for August 26 to 30, but has since been stopped by the High Court which granted Malawi Revenue Authority, National Oil Company of Malawi and Airport Development Limited an injunction to limit HRDC from holding the planned demonstrations outside the three organisation’s premises.

In a letter to Muluzi last week, HRDC said it was disappointed that he did not appraise them of the outcome of his meeting with Mutharika as they had agreed during their initial meeting.

“Allow us to take this opportunity to express our deepest regrets that, Your Excellency, has not kept to the spirit of our previous dialogue, which was to the effect that we will be appraised on progress made with other parties to the dialogue, His Excellency Professor Peter Mutharika and Justice Dr Jane Ansah SC…”it says.

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