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Freedom House urges Malawi to respect rule of law, ahead of Constitutional Court ruling on disputed polls

News Reporter

Washington   —   International Democracy and Good Governance watchdog, Freedom House this week urged Malawian authorities to respect the rule of law, as the Southern African nation awaited a Constitutional Court judgement on the results of the May 2019 pols.

The court ruling is expected February 3.

“As the verdict is handed down, we call on the government to respect the rule of law and the rights of citizens to free assembly and speech,” said Tiseke Kasambala, Freedom House’s chief of party for the Advancing Rights in Southern Africa program. 

“The Malawi authorities have the responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens and ensure that the security forces exercise their authority in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. Those found to have abused their authority, and all perpetrators of violence, should be held to account.”

The call comes amid reports that respect for human rights in Malawi has deteriorated since President Peter Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was narrowly re-elected on May 21, 2019, with 38.57 percent of the vote.

The two main opposition parties—the Malawi Congress Party, whose candidate received 35.41 percent of the vote, and the United Transformation Movement, whose candidate received 20.24 percent—disputed the results, alleging electoral fraud and mismanagement of the polls by the Malawi Electoral Commission.

The two parties brought a case before the Malawi Constitutional Court arguing for the annulment of the election results. In reaction to a series of opposition- and civil society–led demonstrations disputing the results, members of the Malawi police forces and ruling party supporters have reportedly threatened, harassed, detained, and violently attacked civil society activists.

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