Malawi Defence Forces (MDF) former commander, General Henry Odillo, has rejected allegations by Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Justice Maxon Mbendera that the army were ordered to storm the national tally centre at COMESA hall in Blantyre in order to force the recount of the chaotic May 20 ballot.
Mbendera claimed former president Joyce Banda who had attempted to annul the vote instructed the army to force a recount, saying her action mounted to coup d’état.
But in an interview with Nyasa Times, Odillo dismissed Mbendera’s claims as “unfortunate” and unacceptable.
“There were no such directive from the president and that the military presence at the national tally centre was to make sure there was peace and to offer security support,” said Odillo.
He questioned the remarks by MEC chairperson which he described as disturbing, saying that should not have come from a learned judge like Mbendera.
Odillo questioned the motive behind Mbendera’s remarks which has come four months after the elections, saying there should more than meets the eye.
He said it’s not good to point fingers at each other and especially the MDF for what happened during the May elections, stressing there is no grain of truth in what Mbendera said.
Odillo maintained Mbendera’s claims were unfortunate and complete falsehood.
The May 20 elections were riddled with a variety of irregularities and violence that in some instances led to postponement of polling in some centres in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
The situation led to the extension of the voting beyond a single day and delay by MEC to announce official results.
President Peter Mutharika, who won the controversial May elections, fired Odillo as head of the army.
Odillo is held in high esteem for “leading the Malawi army to defend the Constitution” after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) orchestrated a failed “constitutional coup d’état” following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012.
Cabinet ministers reportedly convened a meeting without the then Vice President Joyce Banda immediately after Mutharika’s death and plotted to prevent Mrs Banda, the vice-president, from taking over and to thrust the late president’s brother, Peter, into power in her stead.
Six ministers– Patricia Kaliati, Simon Vuwa Kaunda, Dr. Jean Kalilani, Henry Mussa, Nicholas Dausi and Kondwani Nakhumwa–dubbed ‘Midnight 6’, held a news conference in the dead of the night on April 6 2012 on state MBC television, telling the nation that the Vice President had no authority to act as president.
Odillo told a commission of inquiry that Mutharika had asked the army to take over power.
On 7 April 2012, when Mutharika’s death could no longer be hidden, Malawi’s Cabinet sought a court order to block Joyce Banda from taking over as President.
But Malawi army chief backed the constitutional order and stationed troops around Banda’s house to allow her take over power.
Mutharika‘s treason case on the matter was dropped after winning the presidency as he is immune to criminal prosecution.
Odillo is still on pay roll while at home after his purge from the Malawi army.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :