Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has justified its pending petition to President Peter Mutharika and Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya as simply the first stage of a series of activities.
The quasi-religious grouping is on Thursday scheduled to present the said petition as one way of demanding commitment on the tabling and passing of Electoral Reforms Bills.
Speaking soon after the body’s emergency executive board meeting in Blantyre on Tuesday, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said the board endorsed what should follow if the demands being put in the petition fail.
He said tomorrow’s march was confined to the presentation of the petition involving few members of the clergy, interests groups and civil society and individuals from within Lilongwe.
Said Phiri: “The board already endorsed a follow up activity should the results fail to be realised in this stage one activity. What we are going to do is within the sitting of Parliament there will be now a peaceful national march. So, it is not like we are ignoring the right of the public in Thursday’s march.”
PAC, which is demanding commitment on the Bills after Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu pledged to table the same this month, failed to present the petition on Tuesday because Lilongwe City Council (LCC) was yet to discuss the issue with all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, PAC emergency executive board has endorsed the recommendations made during a stakeholders meeting convened between the inter-faith grouping, police and LCC on Monday to discuss modalities of the petition presentation.
Phiri said the marchers will convene near the Catholic Church’s St Patrick’s Seminary in Area 18 from where the procession will begin to Parliament Building.
“We have also agreed that instead of presenting the petition separately to the Chief Secretary to Government and another to the Speaker we are requesting both of them to be at Parliament Building because the police have advised that it is convenient that way,” he said.
The PAC decision to petition the President and the Speaker coincided with threats by leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera to boycott National Assembly proceedings if the proposed laws are not taken to Parliament.
Two civil society organisations—Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep)—are also lobbying members of Parliament to boycott the proceedings.
The Electoral Reforms Bills include an amendment of Section 80(2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act proposing 50+1 percent majority in presidential election and an amendment of Section 81 (3) of the Constitution for swearing-in of the President and Vice-President to be done after 30 days.