Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera says he is ready for a face-to-face dialogue with President Peter Mutharika to try and resolve the political impasse in the country.
Addressing members of the press at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe on Wednesday after a two-hour closed-door meeting with members of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) mediation team, Chakwera said he and his colleagues have been waiting for the quasi-religious body’s report for four months since the PAC officials met him to resolve the political tension.
“They came as a mediating team for PAC to brief us what they had told us they would do four months ago when they said they were going to meet other stakeholders. They were anxious if I would be willing to meet Mutharika face-to-face. I said ‘why not? I am ready to meet him and have a face-to-face talk any day PAC sets,” he said.
However, Chakwera refused to comment on issues that are in court, only saying that he is ready for any outcome and that he will prepare his followers to do the same. However, he pleaded that the other players follow suit.
Chakwera said: “I repeat that we all must respect the Judiciary and judgement. We stand for the rule of law and must uphold the same; we must respect the same. I am not for anarchy.
PAC mediation spokesperson Gilford Emmanuel Matonga said the team has made headway with the acceptance of Chakwera for a dialogue, as Mutharika also expressed similar willingness for the dialogue.
He, therefore, expressed PAC’s belief that the leaders will attend this Saturday’s national prayers aimed at preparing people for the court results.
“The major highlight of the meeting is the acceptance of Chakwera to meet with Mutharika to discuss the issues affecting the nation at the moment. As you may be aware, there has been a great impasse of issues after the elections.
“Our desire is that they be able to meet as soon as possible before the judges bring their judgement, so that their followers must be prepared for the court result. We do not want to see another stream of violence following the judgement,” he said.
Matonga said PAC hopes to bring all the people together before the end of the year.
“Our desire is for them to meet before the ruling, so that we clear those issues as soon as possible. The special occasion is the prayers we have organised and it will be good for them to shake hands and pray together.
“We are looking forward to this occasion and others. The President (Mutharika) said he respects the rule of law, the independence of courts and that he will accept the results. His concern, however, was on whether the other parties may dispute the results, as the MEC results were disputed.”
“I want people to be able to follow what the courts will determine. I believe that people know what is expected of them as law-abiding citizens.”
Next, the PAC mediation team is expected to meet Chilima and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders within this week.
On Monday afternoon, the PAC officials met Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe to give him feedback on what they had discussed with Chakwera and Chilima over the possibility of the three meeting on the matter in order to prevent political violence anmong their supporters.
The current impasse came about after Chakwera and UTM Party president SaulosChilima felt cheated after the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced Mutharika as the winner in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Chakwera and Chilima later dragged Mutharika to court, seeking to nullify the presidential election results, alleging they were fraught with irregularities.
The PAC team embarked on a dialogue initiative in a bid to forge national unity, and avert violence and mayhem, among the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition parties disputing the results of the presidential race.
Before the court case started, and while it has been underway in the Constitutional Court, some violent incidents have occurred between the two camps.
The political tension—characterised by demonstrations, violence and looting—has enveloped Malawi since May 27, when MEC chairperson Jane Ansah declared Mutharikathe winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes, representing 38.57 percent, followed by Chakwera, with 1 781 740 votes, representing 35.41 percent. Chilima, the country’s immediate-past-vice-president, finished third and ahead of four other presidential aspirants, with 1 018 369 votes, representing 20.24 percent.
HRDC has been in the forefront of organising nationwide demonstrations to try and force Ansah to resign for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process. However, she has refused to resign, saying she may do so only after the court ruling states that she mishandled the polls.