Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked Malawi authorities to ensure a free and fair, as well as safe, vote during the forthcoming presidential fresh elections amid the coronavirus ( Covid-19) pandemic.
“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.”
HRW said Under the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, Malawi like 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.”
President Peter Mutharika faces an uphill task to secure a second term as a formidable opposition threaten to strangle his presidency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :