The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says President Peter Mutharika “spewed half-truths” on Saturday when he described organisers of the post-election demonstrations as selfish people bent on turning Malawi into a lawless state.
HRDC released a statement on Sunday, signed by among others chairperson Timothy Mtambo and vice chairperson Gift Trapence to react to Mutharika’s Independence Day speech.
The rights group condemned Mutharika for calling the protests an act of lawlessness and the organisers as confusionists. The group noted that Mutharika in his speech missed an opportunity to insist on love, national unity and peace.
“We wish to firmly caution against such remarks, especially considering that President Mutharika himself has been directly allegedly implicated in scandals much more befitting of such a characterization. Additionally, the administration he presides over has not been short of scandals either which would also fall squarely into the very definition of ill-intent against Malawians and their welfare he attempted to ascribe to us,” HRDC said.
Last week, the coalition organized protests to push for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.
According to HRDC, the calls for Ansah to resign came after her handling of the May 21 elections in which a lawful government was expected to be sanctioned hence the organisation is worried that Mutharika is failing to appreciate the seriousness of this matter to which millions of Malawians lent themselves in mass action.
Mtambo, Trapence and other members of the HRDC reminded Mutharika that citizens are the source of power hence should not be threatened or stopped from demanding accountability.
“In this connection, where a clear, verifiable mandate to govern cannot be ascertained,
Then Malawi is already in the said state of lawlessness which, again blind to another irony, President Mutharika himself seems hell bent on squashing,” HRDC said.
The group then declared that it will include Mutharika in its protests so that he should use his powers to fire Ansah.
The coalition also stated that it will continue to organize demonstrations and will not be cowered into accepting an incompetent electoral body.