Malawi police says the arrest of human rights activists Reverend McDonald Sembereka and Gift Trapence of the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) are not politically motivated, saying its purely a criminal offence.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya claimed Sembereka and Trapence arrest was political “persecution” aimed at silencing critics of President Peter Mutharika and his administration.
But national police spokesman James Kadadzera dismissed the allegations, saying there was a complaint from an international NGO that the two embedded K7 million deposited in the project accounts of UNAIDS project.
“UNAids complained about the misappropriated funds,” said Kadadzera.
UNAids however did not corroborate the police version of the allegations.
Trapence said police are accusing him of running an organization which is not registered with the NGO Board “ and they think that is fraudulent.”
He said: “The organisation they are talking about is Mango Key Populations Network run by Sembereka.”
The arrest of the activists comes barely days after re-elected President Peter Mutharika accused rights defenders of organising protests over the disputed result of a May vote to turn the country into a “lawless society”.
The country has seen nearly two months of protests by demonstrators who dismiss the election as fraudulent and demand the resignation of Malawi Eelctoral Commission chairwoman Jane Ansah.
President Mutharika accused the protests organisers of plotting to oust his government and warned that the organisers will be dealt with severely.
“The violence you see is calculated to turn Malawi into a lawless state,” Mutharika said on Saturday as the country celebrated the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.
According to the President, Trapence’s organisation want to create “lawlessness” so that they can take over this government.
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