Barely two days after his mediation effort with Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) ended in a deadlock, former president Bakili Muluzi yesterday met President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace.
Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani yesterday confirmed the meeting between the two leaders.
“It was a private discussion. They also met three weeks ago at Sanjika Palace [in Blantyre]. It was just the two of them. No one else was present. The meeting lasted about two hours,” he said.
Several efforts to speak to Muluzi proved futile as he could not be immediately reached by phone.
During the mediation effort with HRDC leadership at his BCA Hill residence in Blantyre on Tuesday, Muluzi offered to meet, within seven days, the President and embattled Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah who is facing resignation calls.
He pleaded with HRDC to suspend their series of anti-Ansah protests until after his meetings with other concerned parties. However, the HRDC leadership rebuffed his plea.
Ironically, while Mutharika and Muluzi met inside the fortified palace, HRDC led protesters on a march and presented a petition to the President through his aide over a kilometer away from the main gate of Kamuzu Palace.
Some of the protesters appeared to target Muluzi personally as they hoisted placards demanding him to pay back K1.7 billion he is accused of diverting into a personal bank account during his term of office.
One of the anti-Muluzi banners read: “Bakili Muluzi utibwezere K1.7 billion yathu. Usakhale ngati wanzeru lero! [Pay back K1.7 billion. Don’t pose the wiser today].”
Tension has engulfed the country and, in some cases resulting in protests characterised by looting and violence, since May 27 when Ansah declared Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent.
MEC’s results showed that Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera came second with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent while the country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima of UTM Party finished third and ahead of four other aspirants with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent,
Chakwera and Chilima have since filed a petition seeking nullification of the presidential election results over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management aspect.