Public Affairs Committee (PAC) mediation team and State House on Friday remained tight-lipped on the outcome of their meeting to thrash out probable solutions to the post-May 21 Tripartite Elections impasse.
In separate interviews last evening, after their meeting which lasted for close to three hours at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, the two camps only described the meeting as “very cordial, fruitful and constructive”.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri was non-committal: “At this juncture, we are not going to reveal the content of what the two sides discussed.”
But Phiri added that what was discussed during their meeting was meant for presidents Saulos Chilima of UTM, Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and leaders of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
The mediation team is scheduled to meet HRDC from 9.30am today.
The PAC executive director, however, said it was evident President Peter Mutharika and his government were committed to the dialogue process and promotion of peace.
“An open door has been given to us to go back to the Head of State and Government and re-engage him. Because of that meeting, the dialogue process will continue. It is not just one meeting. Based on what was discussed, we will have to reach out to HRDC and the presidents of UTM and MCP,” said Phiri.
When contacted, presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalirani also declined to divulge what was discussed during the meeting, referring Weekend Nation to PAC.
“The meeting was very cordial, but as for what was discussed and the outcome, it was agreed that it should be left to PAC to issue a statement because they are the ones who asked for the meeting with the President,” said Kalirani.
The PAC mediation team comprised Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa (team leader) from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Sheikh Ali Kennedy from the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), Pastor Towera Masiku from Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Sheikh Amir Jafaar Kawinga of Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (Qmam), Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) Bishop Gilford Matoga and Phiri, who is also recording secretary for the team.
The Presidential mediation team, which was led by Mutharika himself, had presidential adviser on political affairs Francis Mphepo and Bright Msaka, who is Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for the Eastern Region.
On Friday’s meeting came after an earlier abortive effort to meet Mutharika despite being given greenlight to meet the President. The meeting failed due to some logistical problems on the part of PAC, a quasi-religious body formed in 1992, during the country’s political transition from one-party to multiparty system of government.
The country’s political environment has remained unstable, in some cases, resulting in violent protests, since the May 21 tripartite elections. HRDC has been in the forefront of organising nationwide demonstrations to force the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly presiding over what they call “a flawed electoral process”.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence have vowed to conduct more demonstrations until Ansah resigns, or is fired.
Mtambo said they had a lot of respect for PAC and were ready to meet its mediation team for “a genuine dialogue”.
A fortnight ago, Msusa indicated that after the first level of dialogue with Chilima and Chakwera, they saw the need to meet Mutharika while prioritising dialogue and mediation as an intervention.
Ansah declared Mutharika as winner of the presidential race on May 27, with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent followed by Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes, representing 35.41 percent and Chilima, the country’s immediate past vice-president, finishing third and ahead of four other aspirants with 1 018 369 votes, representing 20.24 percent.
PAC has, since May 22, held face-to-face and telephone conversations with some of the presidential candidates to learn more on the challenges facing the result management system.
The PAC mediation team also kept under wraps what transpired from its earlier separate meetings with Chilima and Chakwera.
Last week, former president Bakili Muluzi first met HRDC leadership and later Mutharika in his quest to also seek a political solution to the stalemate but, again, nothing was divulged after Muluzi met Mutharika. n