President Peter Mutharika is now under intense pressure to break his long silence on the rising political violence in the country ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, including the stripping off of a woman’s clothes in Mangochi.
Officials from NGO Coordination Network and Human Rights Defenders Coalition on Monday afternoon held a news conference where they told Mutharika to comment on the crucial matter, saying his silence could be interpreted as sponsoring the violence.
Luke Tembo of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) said: “The President has the powers to end this rising political violence. After all, he is the He for She champion. He is supposed to be seen to be protecting the rights of women.”
Veronica Katanga, 32, was stripped off her UTM Party clothes, leaving her with just a bra and a skirt and a man in a video clip which has gone viral is heard saying the party is not welcome in Mangochi.
One person has since been arrested for the incident.
Tembo said the police needs to speed up investigations of assault on opposition members, saying some of the incidents happened as far as June last year but the enforcers are not arresting suspects.
“We are not trying to tamper with their investigations but we just wonder why issues to do with the DPP cadets take long to investigate when others take a few days to conclude,” said Tembo.
Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani on Monday said Mutharika should not be dragged into opposition affairs, saying the President has and continues to strongly condemn political violence.
Towards the end of last year, MEC led by its chairperson Jane Ansah engaged political leaders—including Mutharika, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, Joyce Banda of PP and Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF)—in face-to-face meetings to commit to an issue-based and violence-free election campaign to ensure a free, fair and credible election.