Public Affairs Committee (Pac) Monday took to Jane Ansah calls for her resignation as Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson in discussions held in camera at the commission’s headquarters in Blantyre.
Led by Archbishop Thomas Msusa, the mediation team met Ansah as continuation of its efforts to end the ongoing political impasse in the aftermath of the disputed May 21 tripartite elections results.
A source privy to the meeting told The Daily Times on condition of anonymity that they presented to Ansah the demands from UTM, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) by focusing on electoral reforms.
He said they pondered on possible legislation that would provide for Ansah’s resignation in cases where elections are marred by irregularities, pending outcomes of case which is in court among other things.
“Pac raised the issue of resignation in form of reporting that UTM and HRDC recommended to engage the Mec chairperson. Within the conversation, electoral reforms were used as a tool to figure out in case of nullification whether electoral reforms needed to be implemented prior to fresh elections,” he said.
The source said the quasi-religious body was focusing on post-court ruling scenarios so that the dialogue can secure mechanisms to handle the aftermath of the case.
But in what could be her second public appearance in four months, Ansah described the mediation talks as successful.
“Our discussions have gone on very well. We have discussed the issues that were before us,” Ansah said after the meeting.
Asked on what message she passed on to Pac as regards calls that she should step down, Ansah, who is also the Supreme Court of Appeal judge, refused to comment.
The meeting was scheduled to take place at Sunbird Mount Soche but was later shifted to Mec headquarters after the electoral body raised security concerns which Ansah refused to give details on.
On his part, Msusa reiterated Ansah’s sentiments saying the discussions hinged on matters of national interest, including electoral reforms, shifting the focus from the ongoing political impasse.
Msusa said as the political stalemate continues, they deemed it fit to discuss issues that would prevent similar challenges in future while hoping that the meeting has potential to ease the current tension.
“Well, the current impasse takes time and will take long, what we are discussing is about the future. [We are talking about] issues of national interest like the electoral reforms. I hope that the various stakeholders will come together to discuss these issues,” Msusa said.
Reacting to the outcome of the meeting, MCP, through its spokesperson, Maurice Munthali, wondered why the meeting diverted from the current political crisis.
He said Pac has always enjoyed the people’s trust warning that it might be rendered redundant should it fail to represent the will of the people in the mediation efforts.
“Anything that is discussed and not shared publicly will only bring suspicion. This is a sensitive national issue where the demands out there including that of MCP are for Jane Ansah to resign. So, Pac has a hard choice to represent the people or side with the oppressor,” Munthali said.
Meanwhile, Msusa has disclosed that the meeting marked the end of the first round of the mediation talks from which he said issues came out that will be shared with other stakeholders [MCP, UTM, HRDC] and President Peter Mutharika that they had already engaged.
“The first thing for us is to give feedback to those who sent us to meet Jane Ansah. That will be the end of the first round then we will go for the second round where matters of national interest will be discussed,” Msusa revealed.
Malawi has been locked in a political crisis for over four months which has seen Malawians taking to the streets and calling for Ansah’s resignation on allegations that she mismanaged the elections which UTM and MCP are challenging at the constitutional court.