Malawi should ensure free, fair and safe presidential rerun elections amid COVID-19 – Human Rights Watch

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C., USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. Become one of our members and help us keep our quality news free and available for all.

Malawi authorities should ensure a free and fair, as well as safe, vote during upcoming presidential rerun elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

On May 8, 2020, the country’s Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Court’s February order nullifying President Peter Mutharika’s narrow victory in the May 2019 elections, citing serious irregularities, and ordered new elections within 150 days.

The rerun election, scheduled for July 2 pending parliamentary approval, sets Mutharika, from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), against Lazarus Chakwera, a candidate supported by an opposition coalition, including the Malawi Congress Party and the United Transformation Movement. Since May, there has been a spike in politically motivated violence against opposition politicians, human rights activists, and journalists, with no arrests of those allegedly responsible, the Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) reported.

“Malawi authorities should immediately develop processes that will ensure free, fair, and safe elections,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “They should enforce a range of measures to safeguard citizens against violence, and appropriately prosecute those responsible.”

The campaigns for the presidential rerun vote are taking place within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 284 confirmed coronavirus cases in Malawi as of June 1. The government said that the virus will not interfere with the election.

On the night of May 4, unidentified people threw a Molotov cocktail into the office of the United Transformation Movement, led by Vice President Saulos Chilima, in the capital, Lilongwe, causing the deaths of three people and severely injuring three others.

Last week, videos went viral on social media showing groups of men dressed in Democratic Progressive Party regalia threatening violence and declaring Mangochi, a township in eastern Malawi, a “no-go area” for opposition parties.

On May 24, the Catholic Bishops in Malawi issued a collective pastoral letter outlining eight issues of concern in the country, including “increased acts of political violence,” which they condemned “in the strongest terms possible.”

On May 29, the campaign convoy of Vice-President Chilima, who had fallen out with President Mutharika and is Chakwera’s running mate, was stoned in Phalombe, Mutharika’s home area in the country’s south. Zodiak, a private Malawian broadcaster, reported that several journalists traveling in a press bus with Chilima’s convoy were injured.

The HRDC reported that during the last week in May, 12 suspected ruling party supporters physically assaulted the HRDC leader, Timothy Mtambo, in Blantrye, Malawi’s second largest city. His official security detail apprehended the attackers and handed them over to the police, who allegedly promptly released them without charge.

An HRDC leader for Rumphi district in northern Malawi, Walita Mkandawire, told Human Rights Watch that on June 1, a cabinet minister threatened him on his mobile phone with violence and death if he did not stop his activism.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa, Malawi Chapter (MISA Malawi), reported that on May 30, a group of people assaulted Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalists with metal bars at Mponela in Dowa, central Malawi. The next day, MISA Malawi issued a statement expressing concern that “journalists are increasingly becoming victims of political violence as the country prepares for the fresh presidential elections.” The institute said that political party leaders and the Malawi Police Service should make a commitment to end political violence.

Under the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, all African governments are committed to the responsibility to “safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression, and campaigning as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders, during electoral processes.”

Malawi, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is also obligated under article 25 to ensure that: “Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity … [t]o vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors.” This obligation requires governments to take positive steps to provide the services and infrastructure to ensure citizens can safely and effectively exercise their voting rights.

“Malawi authorities should fulfill their obligation to guarantee the rights of all eligible Malawians to vote in free and fair elections,” Mavhinga said. “Political violence needs to end to ensure a conducive environment for a credible vote.”

Read full article

TODAY NEWS AFRICA
TODAY NEWS AFRICAhttps://todaynewsafrica.com
TODAY NEWS AFRICA is registered and headquartered in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America. Our publication is widely read, respected and influential. By providing daily answers to questions our readers have about the people, the businesses and the continent of Africa, we are reaching a diverse and wide audience from around the world. Our readers, many of them world leaders, trust us because we are independent and truthful. Our advertisers understand the difference between news, views and ads. Contact us: [email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now

MOST POPULAR

U.S. coronavirus infections break record, hit nearly 46,000 in a single day

The United States recorded nearly 46,000 new coronavirus infections on Friday, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic...

SEE IT: Certified true copy of the conviction of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila in the United States for $25,000 theft

The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila was convicted in the state of Georgia in the United States...

UPDATED: Wife of dead Nigerian Senator Bayo Osinowo recovering from COVID-19 as son beats the disease

Alhaja Mariam Osinowo, the wife of Senator Bayo Osinowo who passed away on Monday, is recovering from the novel coronavirus, family...

Nigerian Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu tests positive for coronavirus

The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has tested positive for coronavirus, he said on Twitter on Tuesday. Ondo is a state...

Africa records highest daily number of coronavirus cases as pandemic accelerates in the region

Africa on Friday reported its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the outbreak hit early this year, as the pandemic...
- Advertisement -

LATEST STORIES

EXCLUSIVE: IMF economist details how COVID-19 economic turmoil in Asia will affect Sub-Saharan Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic is battering economies in Asia with a contraction expected for the first time in many decades. The economic...

WHO says COVID-19 economic impact in Africa more severe than disease itself as continent struggles to raise remaining $44 billion of $110 billion needed

The economic impact of COVID-19 in Africa is more severe than the disease itself, at least for now, the World Health...

WHO urges strong COVID-19 safety measures in Africa as countries reopen

As African countries begin to reopen borders and air spaces, it is crucial that governments take effective measures to mitigate the...

Daily coronavirus infections in U.S. surpass 50,000 for first time

New reported coronavirus infections in the United States surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday for the first time, with California reporting record 9,740 new...

African Development Bank names former President of Ireland and two legal experts to review ethics report clearing President Adesina

The African Development Bank has named a former President of Ireland, a former attorney general in The Gambia and a Washington...

[/read_more]

Read full article

error: Alert: Content is protected !!
Share
Tweet
Share
Pin
WhatsApp