Malawi: HRDC Vows to Go Ahead to Seal State House Despite Arrests

HRDC has been organizing protests like these since May which have sometimes turned violent.

Officials from the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) say they are not intimidated by the arrests of two of their leaders, saying the rights activists will go ahead to shut down State residences on March 25 to force President Peter Mutharika fire Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners and assent to Electoral Bills recently passed in Parliament.

The grouping also wants the President to appoint a new commission to manage upcoming presidential election.

HRDC's spokesperson Luke Tembo said this after the police on Sunday arrested grouping's vice chairperson Gift Trapence and member MacDonald Sembereka.

The coalition chairperson Timothy Mtambo has gone into hiding after learning that the police were looking for him.

"We will proceed with the demonstrations. Arrests are part of the game. We will not be intimidated," said Tembo.

Before going into hiding on Sunday, Mtambo said the HRDC will not be intimidated by what he described as nonsense.

"Threatening each other will not work. We are against the impunity. We are fighting for a better Malawi and a better Malawi is commenting," he said.

HRDC is forcing President Mutharika to fire the MEC commissioners following recommendations from the Constitutional Court and the parliamentary Public Appointments Committee who accused the pollster of incompetency to handle another election.

On February 3, the High Court sitting in Lilongwe as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) annulled the presidential election, saying they were marred by a plethora of irregularities. The court therefore ordered Parliament to make provisions for holding of fresh presidential election within 150 days.

Parliament passed the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Amendment Bill which has set fresh elections to be held on May 19. The Bill also provides for the holding a run-off election 30 days later if no candidate gets 50%+1 of the votes cast.

Procedurally, the President is supposed to assent to a Bill within 21 days from the date of its passage in Parliament. This means Mutharika is remaining with less than 14 days to assent to the Electoral Bills if MEC is to conduct fresh presidential elections based on the new law.

More From: Nyasa Times

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