Malawi CSOs in chorus of political violence condemnation

Malawi civil society organisations have made a common voice of condemnation of the clashes between opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters and police that left two people dead following a President Joyce Banda’s rally in Thyolo.

Violence erupted on Sunday shortly after a rally led by President Banda at Goliyati village in a stronghold of her rival Peter Mutharika of DPP.

A police officer was axed to death and a protester was shot dead in clashes with stone-throwing opposition activists after police fired tear gas to disperse the hostile crowd.

The protester was killed when police fired into the crowd in what a police spokeswoman described as “self-defence”.

Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) in a statement made available to Nyasa Times said violence in the run up to the May 20 polls can scare away voters that would help them make informed choices of their leaders.

Gift Trapence :  Condemn in strongest terms
Gift Trapence : Condemn in strongest terms

The statement signed by MESN chairperson Steve Duwa, MESN urges leaders of political parties to desist from using hate speech when addressing their supporters.

“At 50 now, the country has not benefitted anything from hate speech and violence; instead, innocent lives have been lost”.

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), also emailed Nyasa Times a statement to condemn “in the strongest terms” the political violence.

“We call on authorities to conduct thorough, prompt and fully independent investigations into all these serious human rights violations in the general interest of the bereaved families, victims and the entire Malawians. Anyone found responsible for or behind the aforementioned crimes must be brought to justice without delay. The sooner the perpetrators of this bloodbath are brought to justice the better,” the two organisations said in a joint media statement.

The statement was signed by CHRR acting executive director Timothy Mtambo and Cedep executive director Gift Trapence.

CHRR and CEDEP  reminded politicians  that acts of terrorism, murder, intimidation and all sorts of political violence have no place in this democratic dispensation where protection, promotion and safeguarding of all human rights including right to life, political participation and freedom of conscious remain the hub of our political and socio-economic development agenda.

The two organisations also condemn all political leaders who have taken lead in departing from an issue-based campaign in preference of the ‘traditional’ gratuitous insults and personal attacks – merely focusing on talking about why their opponents are bad characters or personalities – a scenario that is allegedly said to have partly ignited the recent political violence.

“While not downplaying the great potential which such frivolous personal attacks against political opponents have in inciting violence, we at CHRR and CEDEP believe that resorting into violence as a way of protest against the alleged unpalatable utterances to a particular political opponent is no excuse enough to justify the killings of innocent souls and injuring several others. This does not only have any moral justification but is also not consistent with principles of human rights and democracy where right to life is non-derogable. “

The quasi-religious Public Affairs Committee (PAC)  has also said in a statement   that they   would  like  condemn  in  strongest  terms   the  perpetrators  of  such  acts  of  violence.

PAC  urged all leaders of  political  parties  to “strictly  adhere  to  Malawi  Electoral  Commission  Code  of  Conduct.”

Meanwhile, President Banda has called for a thorough investigation into the Thyolo violence.

“My government will not tolerate such acts of political violence to destabilise the peaceful management of elections and to threaten the peace and security of our people,” Banda said in a statement.

“This barbaric act was politically motivated. All those that are directly or indirectly involved should face the wrath of the law.”

Malawi heads to the polls on May 20 for presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

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