By Oswald T. Brown
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has organized demonstrations to take place on June 20 aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chair Justice Jane Ansah to resign.
The coalition gave Ansah 14 days to step down, but the MEC chairperson refused, saying she can only be removed by President Peter Mutharika.
According to HRDC, the protests will take place in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu.
Speaking at a press conference in Lilongwe on June 9, HRDC’s Timothy Mtambo, Gift Trapence and Billy Mayaya said they want Ansah to resign due to her commission’s failure to manage results in the May 21 elections.
“We further demand that the whole MEC commission should honorably resign because they cannot be spared from the mess,” Mtambo said.
HRDC recently wrote a letter to Ansah saying the public-at-large has lost trust and confidence in her stewardship of the electoral commission.
In the letter, which was signed by HRDC National Chairperson Mtambo, the coalition said Ansah has become a subject of international ridicule because of the way she mismanaged the results in favor of her preferred candidate while subverting the will of ordinary Malawian voters.
They added that many observers raised red flags on malpractices and irregularities, including tippexed result sheets, denying copies of results to monitors and electoral staff being found with pre-filled results sheets.
In the aftermath of the May 21 election, Opposition candidates alleged that figures on some results sheets were altered using correction fluid and demanded the resignation of President Peter Mutharika, who was narrowly reelected.
The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) of Lazarus Chakwera went to court after noticing what it claimed were irregularities in results from 10 of the country’s 28 districts.
The court in the capital Lilongwe initially ordered that the announcement of presidential results be delayed “until the results … are verified through a transparent recounting of the ballot papers in the presence of representatives of political parties which contested the elections.”
However, Malawi’s incumbent President Peter Mutharika was declared the winner of the election, having garnered 38.67% of the votes cast, according to results announced by the electoral commission (MEC) on May 27.
Voters in the southern African nation cast ballots for a president and parliament on May 21, in a bruising race between Mutharika and two former allies, Lazarus Chakwera and Deputy President Saulos Chilima.
Chakwera, of the opposition Malawi Congress Party, scored 35.41% of the votes, while Deputy President Chilima won 20.24%, the electoral body said.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.