Malawi: Zambia Ex-President Set for Malawi Peace Talks As EU Envoy Calls for Dialogue

2 September 2019

Zambia's former president Rupiah Banda is expected in the country this month to mediate on the warring parties over the highly disputed May 21 tripartite elections which the opposition claims were rigged, Nyasa Times understands.

Former president of Zambia, FRupiah Bwenzani Banda

Civil rights activist, Rafiq Hajat who is executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) and coordinating the visit and the subsequent talks, said Banda is coming at the invitation of a South African non-governmental organization.

Hajat said Electoral Institute for Sustainable Development has offered to mediate in the political impasse in the country following the election and invited Banda as one of the key mediators.

"Other mediators will come from African Union and Sadc," said Hajat.

He said an official from the institute was in the country for ground assessment before the mediation talks set for September 20.

Banda stepped down gracefully after losing an election in his country and has since been involved in mediation missions in Africa.

State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said President Peter Mutharika is not aware of the intended peace talks.

Mutharika told the BBC on Monday he would accept meeting the opposition for talks only if there is a clear agenda.

Banda's visit comes at a time European Union (EU) Ambassador Sandra Paesen through an interview aired in private broadcaster Zodiak Broadcasting Station has called for dialogue to resolve the current political impasse and reforms as solutions to long-term electoral and development challenges facing the country.

Paesen said the EU, along with other members of the international community, were working with various political and civil society players to ensure the country finds a lasting solution to the political impasse which has followed disputed May 21 presidential election results.

According to Paesen, the EU believes the country needs national dialogue to discuss challenges in accountability of public funds, legal reforms required following the electoral dispute and reconciliation issues. She cited Parliament as one forum where the issues can be tackled.

Since the elections, in which Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) declared Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) President Peter Mutharika winner, the country has experienced regular protests led by civil society groups under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and backed by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party.

MCP presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM Party counterpart Saulos Chilima are jointly challenging the presidential election results in the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe, and seeking nullification of the presidential polls.

HRDC, on the other hand, is demanding that MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, should resign for allegedly mismanaging the elections.

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