Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has defied calls for him to resign within 60 days, declaring that he will rule the country until the end of his second term in 2014.
Mutharikaâ€™s reaction comes barely a week after delegates to a Public Affairs Committee (PAC) conference called for Mutharika to resign within 60 days or call for a referendum in 90 days to see if he still has the peopleâ€™s mandate to govern.
But PACâ€™s publicity secretary, the Rev. Maurice Munthali has, said its doors are still open and is optimistic Mutharika is available for constructive discussions.
â€˜My brother will carry onâ€™
Speaking in the southern district of Mangochi during the commemoration of the World Water Day, Mutharika said his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government is there to stay until 2014 and beyond.
He declared that his brother, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mutharika, will carry on after â€œpeople declared him their candidate for 2014â€.
Said Mutharika: â€œNdikufuna ndidziwitse fuko la Malawi kuti, Bingu sachoka pampando mpaka 2014 (I would like to tell the Malawi nation that Bingu will not quit until 2014). Bingu never quits no matter how tough the going gets.
â€œI want the MBC TV to record everything that is happening here and send a copy to the chair of PAC, civil society organisations and anybody who is supporting these organisations.
â€œThis is my response to their communiquÃ© calling for my resignation. I will not be bothered to respond any other way.â€
â€˜I got an overwhelming mandate to ruleâ€™
Mutharika said he was voted into office in 2004 and got an overwhelming mandate for the second term with over 2.9 million votes.
Said Mutharika: â€œThe opposition has tried every trick in the book to have me removed. They tried impeachment, sabotaging the budget and Section 65. All these failed. I have a majority that has never been experienced in this country.
â€œI can ask for a third term by changing the Constitution if I so wished to continue and I know some people in the opposition who would actually vote for me. However, I am disciplined and love democracy. Do not forget, nonetheless, that I have that opportunity to even become life president.â€
Commenting on Mutharikaâ€™s speech, Munthali said PAC was simply responding to the Presidentâ€™s calls to anyone with ideas to help solve the problems the country is facing.
PAC on Wednesday released the communiquÃ© from the two-day stakeholders all-inclusive conference held last week where it endorsed delegatesâ€™ call for Mutharikaâ€™s resignation for failing to solve the countryâ€™s persistent problems.
It also gave an alternative of a referendum within 90 days for Malawians to decide their destiny if the President does not resign.
Water is life
During the Thursdayâ€™s meeting, Mutharika called on people to preserve water and avoid wanton cutting down of trees or vandalising water sources because water is an essential part of every living thing.
He said governmentâ€™s plan is to advance the greenbelt initiative to enable the citizenry utilise the abundant natural water resources in the country for food production rather than rely on rains that have become unpredictable.
The President promised the nation that the fertilizer subsidy programme will continue and went out of his usual donor castigation to acknowledge Britainâ€™s Department for International Development (DfID) for its assistance in making the programme a success.