The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has urged politicians to show respect and restraint to one another to facilitate a smooth trial of the disputed May 21 presidential election.
The commission said this in a press statement released Wednesday, in which it announced that it had engaged in quiet diplomacy sessions with parties involved in the case being tried in the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe.
In the case, UTM president Saulos Chilima (first petitioner) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera (second petitioner) want results of the election nullified. They are alleging that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) mismanaged the polls, in which President Peter Mutharika was declared winner.
In the statement, signed by commissioner Martha Chizuma, who is also the country’s Ombudsman, MHRC said it intervened in the matter to prevent delays in the trial, particularly when MEC queried that its efforts to collect sworn affidavits had been thwarted by the petitioners, particularly MCP, who urged the public to stop MEC evidence collectors and hand them to the police.
“With the foregoing in mind, the commission calls upon all the people of Malawi to cooperate with and refrain from disrupting or hindering the work of MEC, as it meets various presiding officers so that the court process should go on smoothly.
“The commission further wishes to emphasise that every Malawian has a right to belong to a political party of her or his choice. Therefore, when hearing of the case starts, the commission expects that every person shall respect the rights of others who may wish to witness the court proceedings in support of the party of their choice,” adds the statement.