The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) secretariat says it will go ahead with its plans to hold peaceful demonstrations following the shooting down of Electoral Reforms Bills during the last meeting of Parliament.
But the quasi-religious grouping and governance watchdog will consult its board next week on the date of the demonstrations that were postponed last month, according to PAC secretariat.
In an e-mailed response to a questionnaire The Nation sent yesterday on the prospects of the peaceful marches, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said as PAC secretariat, they are reigniting the demos.
He said: “We guarantee that the peaceful marches will be held focusing on broader issues but also taking into account that the Electoral and Local Government Elections Bill were frustrated. We plan to ask the board for guidance on 30 January in Lilongwe, that is next week.”
PAC has been planning to reignite the protests following the shooting down of three bills in the 47th Parliamentary meeting that it had been pushing government to have tabled.
Last December, the body said it would meet this month to strategise on the way forward on the planned demonstrations.
The bills that were shot down include the Assumption of Office of the President (Transitional Arrangement) Bill, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill and the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill.
Phiri acknowledged yesterday that while PAC’s decision to postpone the nationwide marches was based on reasons in relation to Parliament and the Head of State, most Malawians were not satisfied by PAC’s position.
He pleaded with Malawians to bear with them “as they also feel the pain of the postponement”.
In a telephone interview yesterday, governance expert Rafiq Hajat said PAC is entitled to reigniting the demonstrations as enshrined in the country’s Constitution that prescribes the right to freedom of speech and association.
He, however, cautioned that PAC may not have support as last month’s postponement made them lose momentum.
The Electoral Reforms Bills that PAC were advocating for government to table and pass in Parliament include an Amendment of Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act proposing a 50+1 percent majority in presidential elections and an Amendment of Section 81 (3) of the Constitution for the swearing-in of the President and Vice-President to be done after 30 days.
In a separate interview yesterday, Sylvester Ayuba James, a representative of concerned Muslim Youths who rallied behind PAC in their demonstrations said they will still support any decision that PAC makes on the demonstrations. n