Mutharika evasive on PAC-brokered peace deal

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate at the May 20 tripartite elections, Peter Mutharika, on Wednesday refused to meet fellow presidential candidates to work out a peace deal in the wake of disputed elections in Malawi.

The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a grouping of various faiths, had invited all the presidential candidates to Sunbird Mount Soche for a meeting on Thursday. All the three top candidates—President Joyce Banda of the People’s Party (PP), Dr. Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and youthful Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF)—confirmed their availability for the peace meeting except for Mutharika.

President Banda, who is at Kamuzu Palace in the capital Lilongwe, was due to fly to Blantyre on Thursday morning but cancelled the trip owing to Mutharika’s unavailability.

PAC  leaders take mediation path
PAC leaders take mediation path

A PAC member close to the arranged meeting said the faith group failed to convince Mutharika to attend the meeting “as he kept yelling at us for four hours”.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times understands that Mutharika has changed his heart and wants to meet fellow leaders on Friday.

According to his closest aide, Ben Phiri, the DPP leader “did not refuse to meet fellow candidates but that he had other engagements to attend to at the appointed time”.

PAC executive director Robert Phiri said a mediation team, which was instituted in February this year to intervene in any major electoral disputes, remains hopeful to resolve the electoral impasse amicably.

Said Phiri: “You will recall that presidential candidates signed a Lilongwe Peace Declaration on 10 May 2014. The latter has been a launch pad for these consultations with the four.

“Let me underline the fact that at this stage the team only offered a listening ear to appreciate [the candidates’] position on the electoral situation,” said Phiri as quoted in the press.

Phiri said immediately the disputes emerged, the team of six, which was instituted by the Board of Trustees but not necessarily from the group’s executive committee, was called to duty to explore ways of ending the deadlock.

Meanwhile, Danwood Chirwa, a professor of law at the University of Cape Town in South Africa; Garton Kamchedzera, associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, and dean of law at the same institution, Dr Mwiza Nkhata,agree that Malawi is facing a serious constitutional crisis and power vacuum with one of them fearing the situation could create fertile ground for corruption by politicians, civil servants and business people serving personal interests.

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