PAC meets Chakwera today

The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) mediation team is this afternoon meeting Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera at the party’s headquarters in Lilongwe in the ongoing dialogue talks aimed at resolving the current political impasse.

PAC executive director Robert Phiri and MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka confirmed in separate interviews yesterday that the meeting is scheduled to start at 2pm.

Phiri: We will meet him at 2pm

While Mkaka said PAC will set the agenda as initiators of the dialogue, Phiri said the discussion will border on the current presidential election stalemate.

Said Mkaka: “PAC has always wanted to meet the president [Chakwera] and I think at this point it does not really matter who is going to be present. The most important thing is that the president will be meeting PAC.”

The quasi-religious grouping will be meeting with Chakwera after holding similar talks with President Peter Mutharika and the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) two weeks ago.

PAC had also planned to meet with UTM Party this week, but Phiri said the party’s president Saulos Chilima has been busy with the ongoing elections court case.

Chilima yesterday underwent his fifth day of cross-examination by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale in the Constitutional Court sitting in Lilongwe.

Said Phiri: “We do understand that they [UTM Party] are busy with the elections court case and, as such, we have to give them space to figure out when we can engage with them.”

PAC, which was formed in 1992 during the country’s political transition from one-party to multiparty system of government, has also been planning to meet Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah whom the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) accuses presiding over a flawed electoral process.

But Phiri yesterday said the mediation team will have to meet on the way forward regarding meeting Ansah after finishing their consultations.

“On the Jane Ansah aspect, it will have to be discussed by the mediators themselves in terms of the way forward because we are supposed to go back and re-engage the Head of State once we finalise these consultations,” he said.

PAC’s mediation team met with both Mutharika and the HRDC on the matter barely days after former president Bakili Muluzi met both parties.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation last week, Muluzi said he would continue with his mediation drive despite PAC pursuing the same cause.

In an earlier interview, associate professor of political leadership at Catholic University of Malawi (Cunima) Nandini Patel said the country would achieve more if the sporadic dialogue initiatives were merged into a single structure.

The PAC mediation team comprises Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi as team leader,  Sheikh Ali Kennedy from the Muslim Association and Pastor Towera Masiku from Evangelical Association of Malawi.

Others include Sheikh Amir Jafaar Kawinga of Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi, Malawi Council of Churches’ Bishop Gilford Matoga and Phiri himself, who is also recording secretary for the team.

Since the May 21 Tripartite Elections in which Mutharika was declared as winner, the HRDC has been leading nationwide demonstrations to force Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Ansah, a Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Judge, declared Mutharika the winner of the presidential race on May 27 with 1 940 709 votes, representing 38.57 percent followed by MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent. Chilima, who is the country’s immediate past vice-president, came a distant third with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.

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