- Condemns violence, urges coexistence
- Chakwera says APM should prove claims
President Peter Mutharika last evening broke his post-inauguration silence and fired warning shots at Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera whom he accused of inciting violence using the party’s supporters.
The President’s national address, monitored on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television and radio, came against a background of protest marches and violence perpetrated by alleged MCP supporters in some areas in the aftermath the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
While condemning the acts of violence, a visibly calm Mutharika alleged that Chakwera was orchestrating violence and “bloodshed” in the country to bring chaos.
He accused Chakwera, who finished second to him in the presidential race, of flouting the country’s democracy by allegedly encouraging illegal protests despite international election observers declaring the elections free and fair.
Said Mutharika: “I am advisably informed that the real goal of Reverend Chakwera is to ignore the democratic electoral process and its results; to create chaos and civil unrest using lives of unsuspecting innocent Malawians to take over government by violence. This will not be allowed.”
The President, who urged political leaders to desist from engaging in violence, said the law will not spare anyone found perpetrating acts of violence.
He said Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) have been deployed to play their role in protecting Malawians.
But when contacted after the President’s address, Chakwera said he would comment later on the accusations.
He said: “He [Mutharika] needs to prove what he is saying. Anyway, I do not have any reaction at this moment. I will respond when I am ready.”
Since Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on May 27 announced Mutharika as winner of the presidential election, MCP supporters have staged protest marches in Lilongwe and Blantyre to express their dissatisfaction with the outcome.
Prior to announcement of the presidential election results, MCP had obtained a court order stopping MEC from releasing the results until irregularities, including alleged tampering with vote tallies, were addressed.
However, MCP did not protest results of parliamentary elections where the party won 55 seats in the 193-seat Parliament against 62 for Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Further, the party did also not protest results of the Local Government Elections.
The High Court later lifted the order that restrained MEC from announcing the results after a challenge from the electoral body.
UTM Party, led by Saulos Chilima who served as the country’s Vice-President under Mutharika between May 2014 and May this year, has also filed a court challenge. Chilima finished third in the presidential race.
In his address yesterday, Mutharika faulted Chakwera for lacking patience, urging his political rival to let the courts freely decide the elections cases filed.
He said: “Instead of waiting for the court to do its job and the judicial process to take its course, Reverend Chakwera is mobilisiling illegal demonstrations that are disrupting everybody’s life.”
The President also appealed to traditional and religious leaders as well as civil society organisations (CSOs) to reject any spirit of violence for the goodwill of the nation.
While some election observer missions, both local and international, declared the electoral process free and fair, several others, including the local quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and the European Union Election Observer Mission expressed some reservations.
In its analysis of the polls, PAC said the results management process lacked credibility, especially in the wake of revelations of use of Tippex, a correction fluid MEC admitted was not part of its inventory.
The European Union Election Observer Mission also faulted the results management system.
During press briefings, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah said there were 147 complaints lodged and that the issue of Tippex was resolved.