Former president Bakili Muluzi says he will continue pursuing his mediation drive to resolve the post-election stalemate that has left the country engulfed in tension and street protests.
In an exclusive interview over the phone yesterday, he said: “Our goal to achieve peace through dialogue has not changed. We will continue with that initiative until we achieve peace which every Malawian desires.”
The former president was responding to an inquiry from The Nation on the way forward in his mediation efforts after Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a quasi-religious body formed in 1992 during the country’s political transition from one-party to multiparty system of government, last week stepped up the arbitration drive by separately meeting President Peter Mutharika and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
Coincidentally, Muluzi had also previously met HRDC and the President.
During yesterday’s interview, he said he is arranging meetings with Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima, who is also the country’s immediate past vice-president (May 2014 to May 2019).
“I can confirm to you that after meeting with the State President and HRDC leaders, we are now planning to meet Malawi Congress Party leader Dr Lazarus Chakwera and UTM president Dr Saulos Chilima.
“I have already talked to both of them and they have agreed for us to meet.
“Currently, we are waiting for the MCP leader who is out of the country. I am very happy that a lot of stakeholders have shown interest to bring about peace and stability in the country.”
Since May 27 when Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah declared Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as winner of the presidential race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent, tension has engulfed the country and, in some cases resulting in protests marred by looting and violence.
Results MEC announced put Chakwera on second position with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent and Chilima third, ahead of four other aspirants, with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.
Chilima and Chakwera have since filed a petition in the Constitutional Court seeking nullification of the presidential election results. They cite alleged flaws in the results management process as one key factor for their case.
On the other hand, HRDC has been in the forefront of organising nationwide demonstrations to force Ansah to resign for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process.
During yesterday’s interview, Muluzi said he would not discuss the substantive matters of the dialogue, but indicated that there was progress in the quest to bring the parties together for the good of the country.
When asked whether it is not important to have a joint approach instead of multiple initiatives, he said the current setup was good for the country because it provides a variety of initiatives using different methods to achieve the same purpose.
In an earlier interview, associate professor of political leadership at Catholic University Nandini Patel said the country would achieve more if the sporadic dialogue initiatives were merged into a single structure.
PAC’s mediation team is led by Archbishop Thomas Msusa of the Archdiocese of Blantyre in the Catholic Church. The team comprises members from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (Qmam) and Malawi Council of Churches (MCC).
In an interview with our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, after meeting Mutharika, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said the President committed himself to dialogue and requested the mediation team to reach out to HRDC, MCP and UTM leadership and revert to him.