The UN in Malawi is concerned about several recent incidents taking place at the beginning of the electoral period and the recent assault of a Times journalist at the National Assembly, threats and intimidation of legislators last Friday.
The UN has since asked the office of the Speaker of Parliament and police to investigate the matter and ensure that the culprits are brought to book.
“The UN underlines the importance of the full respect for the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and political participation, including for women.
“Promoting conditions for holding credible, free and fair elections in 2019 requires a climate of tolerance and respect for the rule of law that enables citizen’s participation and equal representation, including for women,” reads a statement made available to Nyasa Times signed by Ms. Maria Jose Torres, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malawi.
She said at this early stage of the electoral calendar, the UN invites all stakeholders: State institutions, media, religious leaders, traditional leaders and political parties to actively promote peaceful settlement of disputes, as contained in the existing electoral and peace building legal and policy frameworks.
The 50:50 Campaign Management Agency has condemned also the fracas and attack of Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati (Democratic Progressive Party -DPP) at parliament.
The agency said in statement co-signed by the 50:50 Campaign team leader Viwemi Chavula and ActionAid executive director Grace Malera, that the attack poses a threat to the country’s democracy as the development could deter Malawian women’s participation in politics.
Reads the statement in part: “The Agency has noted with concern incidents of violence that occurred at Parliament during the occasion of the opening of the Third Meeting of the 47th Session of Parliament on 4th May 2018. The Agency is particularly concerned and saddened with the barbaric incidents that took the form of physical and verbal attacks on Mulanje West Member of Parliament honourable P a t r i c i a K a l i a t i . This development is retrogressive, constitutes violence against women in politics and elections is a serious threat to Malawi’s democracy”.
The agency stressed the need for a conducive political environment for women as the country draws close to next year’s tripartite elections.
Kaliati, who is a former minister of Information and Communications Technology, was attacked at Parliament on Friday alongside other DPP legislators by suspected DPP youth cadets who were brave enough to disturb the proceedings of the House as President Peter Mutharika delivered the 2018 State of the Nation Address.
But in a statement released on Saturday signed by DPP publicity secretary Francis Kasaila, the ruling party disassociated itself from the violence saying the party does not condone violence in any form and called the police to thoroughly investigate the act and bring the culprits to book.
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