HRDC to march against SADC Electoral Forum

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By John Namalenga Jr

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition-HRDC is planning to hold demonstrations on Wednesday in Blantyre against Malawi hosting an Electoral Commission Forum for SADC countries.

The 21st Annual Conference started on Monday, attracting delegates from 16 countries including Namibia, Lesotho, Angola, South Africa and Mozambique.

This week long conference comes amid political tension in the country due to the disputed May 21 presidential elections.

The HRDC has been holding demonstrations to force the Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC chairperson to resign for allegedly mismanaging the polls.

This time HRDC officials reveal that tomorrow’s demonstrations will involve a march to the venue of the meeting and deliver a petition to the SADC Secretary General.

“We have already sent letters of notification to the district council  and police in Blantyre, and we  intent to read out a petition and deliver it to the SADC chairperson who will be there present at that meeting,” Said Billy Mayaya who is the HRDC Chairperson responsible for the central region

The grouping threatens to extend the demonstrations to Friday, if they will not get a response on their concerns on electoral justice.

“What we want to do is to seek electoral justice pertaining to elections around the region and specifically to the tripartite elections which took place this year in Malawi and we expect the SADC elections forum to be forthright in coming up with a road map for Malawi’s quagmire relating to the May 2019 elections,”  said Mayaya.

The forum has also seen Malawi’s electoral body Chairperson Ansah making her first public appearance since the current political tension began.

Ansah is also the current President of the SADC Electoral Bodies.

“I think it is embarrassing for a chair who is being accused for mismanaging the elections to be given the platform to advance free and fair election when we know that that wasn’t the case in Malawi,” Mayaya added.

Commenting on the move by the HRDC, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Interaction-IPI Rafik Hajat said the petition will also raise awareness to the international community of the need for accountability.

“I think it will be a reality check for the SADC Electoral Commission Chairs that their actions will lead to reactions and that the consequences will be serious,” he said.

The Coalition has said it is expecting that security agencies will work within their mandate

Meanwhile, the grouping has threatened to extend the demonstrations to Friday, if they will not get a response on their concerns on electoral justice.



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