Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

MHRC Condemn Peaceful Demonstrations Turn Violence

Written by Enock Balakasi Vincent Gunde

The Malawi Human Rights Commission ( the Commission), has greatly been disturbed with the increasing incidences of violence across the country where the people of Malawi led by HRDC are believed to be demonstrating against the conduct of the 2019 Tripartite elections held on 21st May.
The violent acts that have been taking place since the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced that Peter Mutharika won the May 21 presidential race have been condemned as two-day peaceful demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign turned ugly Thursday.
In the capital Lilongwe, group of youths suspected to have been among the protesters looted a Spar supermarket and an electronics shop at City Centre after the marchers had dispersed.
In Blantyre, the suspected ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets attacked Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Southern Region offices at Chichiri.
The offices were vandalised, glasses were broken and a security guard identified as Lungu was assaulted.
In Mzuzu, some of the protesters were breaking offices, including those of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom). Commercial banks located along Mzuzu’s dual-carriageway Orton Chirwa Highway were not spared as NBS Bank, Standard Bank, Nedbank and First Capital Bank branches were affected.
The demonstrators also demolished perimeter fences for some buildings, smashed vehicles and shops, including Airtel Malawi and TNM plc kiosks.
While acknowledging the right of Malawians to hold peaceful demonstrations as provided in the Constitution, the Commission call on citizens to maintain peace, calm and unity as the nation waits for the court’s determination on the matter
This is contained in a press statement dated 5th July,2019 signed by the Commission’s Executive Secretary, David Nungu on post elections violence.
It says the Commission is condemning these developments of violence in the strongest terms possible and has documented torching and destruction of business premises and Government buildings in Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Karonga, Rumphi, among others.

Protesters burning tyres

The Commission has also documented attacks and threats on the demonstrators and organisers, attacks and threats on the people not participating in the demonstrations, mounting of barricades in the roads mainly at Kamphata, Zomba, City centre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu and inflammatory messages on the social media calculated to incite violence and instil fear in the people.
In the statement, the Commission is appealing to the organisers of the demonstrations to exercise the duty to ensure that demonstrators are peaceful and must not result in the violation of the rights of the people of Malawi and the HRDC to depoliticise the demonstrations and walk the talk to control the demonstrators.
The Commission further restates its call to the police to arrest and bring to book all those that abuse the right to assemble and peaceful demonstrations and advising the police to also protect the safety of its officers as they protect the demonstrators beside protecting the safety of the people of Malawi and their property.
It is also repeating its calls to the people of Malawi to report to police any person of persons that cause violence, indulge in property destruction or looting of any manner saying every Malawian has a duty to safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms including the right to peace and peaceful co- existence.
The Commission is wishing to urge all those that were aggrieved by the conduct of the tripartite elections to follow peaceful means of resolving disputes as provided by the Constitution.
It says it was encouraged by all those that petitioned the courts for effective redress of the electoral disputes considering that such petitions are still in courts, advising the petitioners to give space to determine the matter without any influence.
The Commission finally says it will soon release its report in which it will hold all duty bearers accountable after noting and monitoring all the demonstrations.

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