May 18, 2021

MHRC calls for redress of political violence

The Malawi Human Rights Commission [the Commission] says as Malawi will conduct by-elections in seven constituencies and two wards on 30th March 2021, holding of elections is one of the key pillars of any democratic country and it allows citizens to participate in the choosing of their representatives.

The Commission says while some districts are getting closer to the voting day, it has noted two issues that require immediate redress: the incidences of political violence that have taken place in some constituencies and lack of adherence to Covid-19 measures in the forthcoming by-elections.

The organization mentions last week, where violence erupted in Nsanje Central Constituency between supporters of the MCP and DPP, several people were reported injured saying violence should not be allowed to play a part in any electoral event, political violence has the potential to derail the electoral process and also disenfranchise some votes.

In a statement dated 19th March 2021 signed by its Executive Secretary, Habiba Osman, the Commission, MHRC is therefore condemning this violence in strongest terms, urging all political parties and their supporters to embrace peace and adopt issue based campaign strategies.

The Commission is calling upon the police to be vigilant and address issues of violence before they get out of hand, there should be no impunity for perpetrators of violence.

…”We commend the Malawi Police Service and the Electoral Commission for taking swift action to address the issues…,’’ reads part of the statement.

The Commission is also concern with failure by political parties to abide to Covid-19 prevention measures in the conduct of the campaign meetings, noting that the parties and candidates are going about holding campaign meetings with large crowds and without any personal protective equipment [PPE], saying there is a total disregard for observing social distancing as dictated by the National Guidelines on Prevention of Covid-19.

The organization says this conduct has the potential to spike further increases in local transmissions of the Corona Virus at a time when infections have gone down significantly, calling upon all political parties and candidates to adopt protective and innovative ways of campaigning that do not put lives of Malawians at risk again.

By Vincent Gunde

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