Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda delivered an early morning ruling Tuesday allowing the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to go ahead with demonstrations to force Ansah to resign as chairperson of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for presiding over flawed May 21 Tripartite Elections which saw President Peter Mutharika re-elected.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale had earlier applied to the court to stop the demonstrations or make the organizers pay a whopping K2 billion to cover for the damages that may come with the demonstrations.
“Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda musadzamwalire, status quo stands on…,” reads a placard.
In his ruling Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda dismissed the Attorney General application to stop the demonstrations.
“As was rightly conceded by the Attorney General, the Courts have held, with an
almost crusading zeal, in favour of protecting the right to demonstrate. The
Attorney General contended that it is high time the Court re-examined the
approach hitherto taken by the Courts: the right to demonstrate should not trample
the other constitutional rights such as the right to economic activity, right to
property, etc. but there must be a co-existence of rights, so he contended.”
“To my mind, this means that until a contrary decision is made in a substantive matter, this Court has to go by current legal position. In short, the status quo holds good.”
“In view of the foregoing and by reason thereof, the application by the Claimant is
dismissed with costs,” ruled Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda.
Attorney General had asked the court to order that HRDC should not hold the demonstrations because they are connected with violence and destruction of property whenever they are held.
Meanwhile, members of HRDC, including chairperson Timothy Mtambo, and Gift Trapence are reportedly receiving threats from purported government sympathisers.
According to some of the text messages directed at Trapence, some anonymous senders have been threatening to deal with the government critics by, among others, invading their homes.
However, Trapence said such threats will not deter the CSOs for demanding accountability from government.
One of the text messages, from a South Africa-registered number threatened Trapence that the HRDC vice-chairperson will specifically be targeted through a break-in at his home during today’s planned protests.
Said Trapence: “There are death threats. We investigated the person and we know how we can take legal action against them. They are based in South Africa but no one is above the law; but we haven’t reported the matter to police because we are yet to be assisted on several complaints we raised like recent attacks at CHRR offices.”
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