The United Nations (UN) on Friday met the leadership of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) in Lilongwe for what was said to be a routine and private agenda.
But Weekend Nation understands that the meeting was a continuation of UN’s efforts to broker peace after the country has been experiencing violent protests aimed at forcing out Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.
In an interview after the meeting, HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo played down the discussions, saying it was just a normal visit, and nothing official.
He said the meeting was one of many the HRDC officials have been holding with stakeholders in the country.
Said Mtambo: “We attended the meeting and we will continue to meet [UN], and for today some of our ordinary members were part of the talks so that they should familiarise themselves with our partners in the event some of us are no longer leaders.”
UN officials were not readily available for comment.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), headed in the country by Maria Jose Torres, was a key partner in funding the May 21 polls and the organisation opened its doors to recent mediation talks between HRDC and Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale’s side, after the latter had taken an injunction stopping HRDC from holding anti-Ansah demonstrations.
HRDC, which has been holding demonstrations since the announcement of the May 21 presidential election results, wants Ansah to resign and pave the way for investigations to identify and prosecute those who supplied Tippex that was used to alter election figures on result sheets.
The demonstrations have in some cases been marred by looting and violence.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has dismissed calls for her to resign, saying she would only step down if the court found her leadership to have failed to discharge its duties.
MEC declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winner of the presidential race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections with 1 940 709 votes, representing 38.57 percent.
Malawi Congress Party presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera came second with 1 781 740 votes, representing 35.41 percent while his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima came third with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent, ahead of four other aspirants.