Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has commended the National Assembly for passing the much awaited Access to Information (ATI) Bill.

Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) led by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera used their numerical strength to overcome the strong opposition from government MPs led by Dr. George Chaponda to pass the bill.

At one point, Parliament had to be suspended for close to 2 hours due to disagreement between the two sides and bill was passed at around 20:15pm.

During the debate, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Malisoni Ndau expressed reservations on some clauses in the bill and one of it is the clause that empowers the Human Rights Commission to play an oversight role in ensuring implementation of the bill.

Ndau said HRCC is having a lot of responsibilities in the country but the argument was trashed by the opposition.

In a statement signed by CHRR Executive Director Timothy Mtambo made available to FaceofMalawi, he said the passing of the bill clearly shows that the country is making strides in democracy.

“We profoundly appreciate the progressive gesture by the Parliamentarians in passing the long-awaited Access to Information (ATI) Bill.

“Our special mention goes to opposition parliamentarians and other well-meaning legislators for rising to the occasion and recording a giant stride in the democratisation of this country,” said Mtambo.

He added: “It’s now time for Malawi to jealously guard this democratic gain. And, as a nation, we simply cannot afford to look back!”

Meanwhile it is known as to whether President Mutharika assent the bill into law.

Mutharika already declared that he would not assent to the bill if government’s proposed amendments are rejected.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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