Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have announced plans to hold further demonstrations following their unfulfilled June 20 protest demands.
HRDC announced the development during a post-June 20 demonstrations press briefing held at the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) office in Lilongwe.
In an interview, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said the group expected Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to resign by Friday, but she did not.
“We think they are taking Malawians for a joke, so we will hold demonstrations on 4th and 5th July in form of vigils in 10 selected districts.
“After these vigils, if there will be no action, we will hold other vigils from 8th to 12th July, but this time in all the districts and we will continue until Ansah resigns,” said Trapence.
HRDC held demonstrations in the cities of Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Blantyre and Zomba on Thursday, demanding Ansah’s resignation on allegations that she failed to handle the May 21 presidential elections, which were marred by alleged irregularities.
Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was declared the winner, but other contenders for the presidency, notably Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Saulos Chilima of UTM are challenging the results at the Constitutional Court.
In support of their leader, MCP supporters have been holding demonstrations, some of which turned ugly in various districts in the country.
Trapence, however, distanced HRDC demonstrations from the ugly scenes and looting, saying the group had defined routes for the peaceful demonstrations and they were conducted peacefully to the last point.
“We condemn strongly those who went under the disguise of peaceful demonstrations and started violating other people’s freedom. We urge the police to investigate and arrest such people because they were not part of us,” he said.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said Malawi Police Service has received a number of grievances on damages and losses incurred during the demonstrations and that investigations will be instituted.
“Those that will be found to be behind these destructions will face the law,” he said.