President Peter Mutharika has been advised to “tread carefully” on the ultimatum given by civil society organisations (CSOs) l who presented a petition to his office on September 21 after anti-government protest in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba cities.
A leading daily newspaper, The Nation, in an extended coverage of its front-page story on political commentators who have warned Mutharika to positively engage CSOs as they represent Malawians, carried an editorial comment urging the President to embrace all Malawians and “listening to voice of dissent”, including that of CSOs.
In their report, the paper reported the reaction of political commentators on President’s attack on the CSOs following their demonstrations.
And in an editorial comment, the daily pointed out that peaceful demonstrations are not about the numbers and said it has an impression that the Head of State is being “ill advised” if his disregard for CSOs is anything to go by.
“We expect the President to rise above petty partisan politics and play the father figure by accommodating views from all and sundry. After all, the President, a professor of international law, swore to defend and protect the Constitution. Freedom of association and rights to freely assemble are contained in the very Constitution,” reads the editorial comment in part.
The paper concurred with comments it quoted social and political commentator Humphrey Mvula that Mutharika’s negative attitude was giving his political rivals “fodder” for the election campaign which would complicate matters for the President in next year’s elections.
Mvula was quoted saying President Mutharika’s thinking is” very misplaced”, he needs to be held accountable and the CSOs are just simply doing their work.
The paper agrees and noted that President Mutharika risks being “bruised and wounded” towards the election.
“This does not augur well for a President who has face a turbulent four years in office and a break away party [UTM] from within his governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP),” reads the editorial.
Among the political commentators it quoted were Rafiq Hajat, who said the President should appreciate that CSOs “play a complementary role and they should be considered as partners.”
On his part, University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri said Mutharika should objectively address the issues raised by the CSOs and that “his negative attitude cannot help the country.”
Meanwhile, the CSOs, which operate under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF), have since written the President to follow up on their issues following the expiry of the period stated in their petition.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :