State House has confirmed former president Bakili Muluzi on Thursday met President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace but could not divulge details of the discussions which centred on ending further election-related clashes two days after Muluzi’s mediation effort with Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leadership.
Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said President Mutharika and Muluzi, who was Malawi’s president from 1994 to 2004, met for about two hours.
Kalilani described the meeting of the two leaders as “private discussions.”
He said: “It was just the two of them. No one else was present.”
According to Kalilani, the two leaders also met three weeks ago at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
The meeting came against the backdrop of Muluzi urging protesters calling for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign over alleged fraud since President Mutharika’s May re-election to halt months of demonstrations so he could mediate with government authorities over the contested presidential election.
He invited the HRDC leadership to his private retirement home in Blantyre to discuss the issue.
But HRDC maintained their call for twice-a-week street action to force Ansah, a judge at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, to resign as MEC chair.
The protesters accuse Ansah of fraud in declaring Mutharika the winner of the May election with 38 percent of the vote.
During the Thursday fresh round of demonstrations, some protestors appeared to target Muluzi personally as they hosted placards demanding to pay back the K1.7 billion – the money the State accuse him of diverting into personal bank account during his term of office – but he denies any wrong doing as money was given to his name by donors of the party he led UDF for campaign of his successor late Bingu wa Mutharika.
One of the anti-Muluzi banners read: “Bakili Muluzi utibwenzere K1.7 billion yathu. Usakhale ngati wanzeru lero! [ Pay back K1.7 billion. Don’t pose the wiser today].”
But Muluzi said he fears the violence during the protests is moving the country in a dangerous direction.
“We must also accept that these demonstrations have caused a lot of economic hardships, you know that,” he said. “The shops get closed, the bank’s not open, there are so many things.”
More public and private buildings and property were destroyed in cities of Mzuzu and Lilongwe following the frwsh protests that continued Thursday in the country’s four cities and other parts.
In Lilongwe, the protesters broke and torched part of government office complex for the Ministry of Information Communications and Technology and they also stoned and broke the offices of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) head office.
The protesters, who were determined to present their petition to President Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace, 800m away from the main entrance to Kamuzu Palace where Mutharika’s adviser on NGOs, Mavuto Bamusi, received the protesters’ petition on behalf of Mutharika.
Bamusi assured the protesters that Mutharika would respond to the petition “soon.”
Political analyst Vincent Kondowe says with continued protests and no dialogue, Malawi will head toward anarchy. He said President Mutharika, runners-up Lazarus Chakwera, and Saylos Chilima need to reach a compromise.
Chakwera and Saulos Chilima are challenging the election results in court, alleging ballot-stuffing and the use of Tipp-Ex correction fluid to change votes.
The MEC maintains the election was free and fair.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :