Mutharika and Muluzi Bullying Rights Activists

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Political commentators have told  Capital FM that President Peter Mutharika and his political ally, Atupele Muluzi, used their public rally at Njamba yesterday to bully local rights activists.

They contend that Mutharika and Muluzi used the rally as a platform to mainly respond to the demonstrations by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and to intimidate them against holding further protests.

Last week, the HRDC announced plans to shut down the State House if Mutharika does not act on the recently passed electoral reforms bills and appoint new commissioners for the Malawi Electoral Commission.

During the rally yesterday, Muluzi apologised to Mutharika for what he described as damages caused by impatient youth in the country.

Taking his turn, Mutharika, in a charged up speech, declared that enough was enough and he called on the Malawi Defence Force and the police to deal with further demonstrations.

“Your time is up, your time is up, enough is enough, ine ndatopa ine, i am tired of stupidity, next time tikumana(we will meet).

“Am telling HRDC as long as am alive they will never get to state house. Police inspector gen of police and army commander pa March 25 ngati atabwere ku Statehouse, they will use all the force to stop,” Mutharika added.

While banging the podium, the president continued to angrily warn the human rights activist.

“We have a government here, Mtambo sangakhale wankulu kuposa boma ayi (Mtambo can’t be bigger than the government),” emphasized a visibly angry Mutharika.  

Interestingly, barely a few hours after the rally, the police obtained warrants and arrested two HRDC leaders – Macdonald Sembereka and Gift Trapence – on undisclosed charges.

Until now the two have not been formally charged, but a police statement signed by national police publicist James Kadadzera outlines some of the grounds for the arrest.

“The three suspects are fully aware that section 103 of the Police Act prohibits any demonstrations or assemblies within a hundred metres from state residences unless the same have been permitted by the State President, reads the statement.

In the statement, Kadadzera went on to point out that section 124 of the Penal Code prohibits any person to incite or solicit another to break any law.

Earlier, the HRDC leadership had maintained that they would not be intimidated by Mutharika’s threats that his government would do everything possible to stop further demonstrations.

“By inciting people to seal the State Residences on 25th March 2020, the three committed an offence under section 124 of the Penal Code,”Kadadzera stressed.

Meanwhile senior official of the HRDC have said they are working towards the release of their colleagues.

 

 

 

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