- MCP leader calls for calm
- UDF pledges to support MCP
Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has urged Malawians to remain calm, and peacefully accept the Constitutional Court ruling on the elections case expected next week.
Addressing the media at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe, Chakwera, who was flanked by former president Joyce Banda, called for all stakeholders to adhere to the rule of law ahead of the elections case verdict and praised the Judiciary, military and civil society for, so far, inspiring confidence in Malawians.
“Let us resolve to welcome the ruling with open arms as a foundation on which we can begin the work of rebuilding our nation and reconciling with each other.
“After all, we have no other nation to call our home other than Malawi and no other people to call our own than each other. And I, for one, would never trade it for any other country,” said Chakwera, who holds the opposition base in the Central Region where protests were more violent.
He said lives of Malawians have been put on hold since the elections, saying people have experienced pain over destruction of business during protests. However, he said there are also reasons for the country to be optimistic.
The MCP leader further said the period since the elections has been hard on Malawians for experiencing police brutality and government’s failure to pay teachers their salaries.
Chakwera also said the country is facing hunger crisis and many Malawians are already feeling the pinch.
He said the current hardships are labour pains of a new birth. “We Malawians have reached a point of no return,” he said.
Chakwera’s sentiments are in line with what Constitutional Court chair Judge Healey Potani said last December that people who may feel aggrieved by the ruling should uphold the rule of law by appealing the determination in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Chakwera praised the judges of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), ACB director general, the military, leaders of civil society, civil servants and many Malawians for upholding rule of law and referred to the ongoing investigation into alleged attempt to bribe judges of the Constitutional Court as another source of worry.
“Let us rise with every Malawian who respects the uniform they put on every day by only using it to uphold the rule of law, as those in the Malawi Defence Force [MDF] are doing. In the same way, when the court delivers its ruling, let us rise to that occasion and accept it, respect it, support it, and uphold it,” he said.
The MCP leader did not directly mention the ongoing bribery case, but has referred to the work of the Judiciary and ACB as commendable.
Meanwhile, Chakwera has announced that he met United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi, and that the two plan to join forces for their parties to work together.
Muluzi, who finished fourth in the disputed presidential elections, and lost his Machinga North East constituency, met the MCP leader on Thursday night at his residence.
According to an MCP source, Muluzi who was a member of Cabinet until the May 21 elections, promised to support Chakwera should there be a presidential election re-run.
Muluzi, could not be immediately reached for comment, but Chakwera said on his Facebook page: “I held fruitful discussions with United Democratic Front president Hon. Atupele Muluzi about how we can overcome our differences and join hands in nation-building going forward.”
However, Muluzi later confirmed the sentiments in a radio interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Corporation (ZBS).
The UDF leader, who took over the party’s leadership from his father and the country’s second president, Bakili Muluzi, faces an uphill task to revamp his political fortunes, as well as those of his party.
In an interview, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga on Friday said Muluzi had informed his party officials of his meeting with Chakwera but said the party is yet to be fully briefed about the details of the meeting with Chakwera.
“He has informed us about it. He will be briefing us on what they discussed. I can confirm that they met, but I can’t say what they discussed,” said Ndanga.
In an interview, former president Banda said there was a need to manage the tension in the country.
“When a nation has no hope for a better future, people behave the way we are behaving, especially when the establishment does not want to listen to the ordinary people and address their concerns. I, therefore, agree with [Chakwera] that we need to rise above political and religious divide and advance peace and co-existence,” she said.
Governance expert Mankhumbo Munthali described Chakwera’s remarks as “welcome and timely, especially considering the already tense political climate ahead of the court verdict”.
Public Affairs Committee (PAC) spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga, also welcomed the call by Chakwera and urged other leaders to follow the example.
“We are happy to hear major political party heeding the call for peace. Two things came out, respect rights of others, no violence. Without the environment of peace, we cannot have meaningful development,” said Matonga.
In the historic elections case, the first petitioner Saulos Chilima of UTM and second petitioner Chakwera are seeking a nullification of presidential results in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The Malawi Law Society (MLS), development partners and religious groups have also called on Malawians to accept the outcome of the ConCourt.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) declared President Peter Mutharika the winner in the elections, beating other Chakwera and Chilima.
Mutharika is the first respondent, while MEC is the second respondent in the case in which the petitioners allege that MEC mismanaged the elections in favour of Mutharika.