Muluzi demands Malawi presidential critic to be freed

Former Malawi president Bakili Muluzi, currently undergoing medical treatment in South Africa, has given his support to the campaign to free human rights lawyer and activist Ralph Kasambara.

Speaking on his hospital bed in Cape Town, South Africa, Muluzi who is a goodwill ambassador and messenger of justice and human rights for Africa said the government should comply immediately with court orders to have Kasambara released.

“I condemn the ongoing detention of Mr Kasambara and call upon authorities to respect court orders by releasing the lawyer,” he said.

The former president also called on Police to “exercise impartiality” by respecting court orders and not hide under the pretext of carrying “orders from above”.

Muluzi, who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004, also pointed out that “there are many others who are also detained in Malawi prisons” and said “they must be released.”

The former president who has been in touch with Kasambara’s family to express his solidarity also commented on the ongoing strike by the Judiciary junior staff, calling on government “to urgently address the matter.”

Muluzi said he was worried that the strike had triggered overpopulation in Malawi Prisons.

“I hear reports of overcrowding in prisons. This is not acceptable. Government must urgently address this issue. It is a human rights issue,” he said.

Muluzi has joined the growing campaign by local and international rights activists, including politicians to release the outspoken opponent of Malawi’s president Bingu wa Mutharika who is increasing becoming an autocrat.

He calls on everyone who values human rights and justice to voice their support in calling for Kasambara to released.

Muluzi was conferred Champion of Freedom Award by the South Africa based Africa Heritage Society (AHS) which said it recognizes the former president as a claimant of the Champion of Freedom in honour of his contribution towards the peaceful democratization of Malawi.

Meanwhile, Kasambara was Friday night moved from jail to Mwaiwathu hospital to receive treatment under police guard.

Doctors say Kasambara “has developed a serious cardiac condition.”

Kasambara was arrested Monday, accused of kidnapping and torturing three but he claims the thugs had confessed they had been sent by the government to firebomb his office. The government denies Kasambara’s accusations. Kasambara denies the charges against him.

His arrest came days after weekly newspapers quoted him saying Mutharika “wants to be a dictator” and should be impeached.

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