11 July 2019

Malawi: United Nations Confirm K7.4m Issue With Malawi Activists, Demand Release of Trapence and Sembereka

Photo: Nyasa Times
President Peter Mutharika (file photo).

United Nations (UN) has demanded the release of human rights activists, Reverend McDonald Sembereka and Gift Trapence of the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), who were arrested on allegation of defrauding K7.4million of UNAids funds.

Trapence: Issue amicably resolved with UN, to pay back money Sembereka: Remanded at Maula Prison

The two activist remanded at Mauwa Prison in Lilongwe are accused of operating an organisation, Mango Key, which is not registered with the Non-Governmental Organisation -(NGO) Board of Malawi, and that they misappropriated the UNAids money through it.

In a letter to Malawi government on Wednesday, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Lilongwe said the matter was sorted with "an amicable resolution".

The UN confirmed about the alleged fraud but stated that the funds will be repaid to UNAIDS.

It disowned those who reported the matter to police.

"The United Nations would like to seek the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Malawi Police Service's immediate cooperation to effectively release those individuals from Police custody."

The two have been charged with forgery and operating an NGO 'Mango' without registering with NGO Board.

Human rights activist Billy Mayaya claimed Sembereka and Trapence arrest was political "persecution" aimed at silencing critics of President Peter Mutharika and his administration.

The arrest of the activists comes barely days after re-elected President Peter Mutharika accused rights defenders of organising protests over the disputed result of a May vote to turn the country into a "lawless society".

The country has seen nearly two months of protests by demonstrators who dismiss the election as fraudulent and demand the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Dr. Jane Ansah.

President Mutharika accused the protests organisers of plotting to oust his government and warned that the organisers will be dealt with severely.

"The violence you see is calculated to turn Malawi into a lawless state," Mutharika said on Saturday as the country celebrated the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

According to the President, Trapence's organisation want to create "lawlessness" so that they can take over this government.

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