Malawi: Top Civil Society Leaders Arrested in Malawi Crackdown

HRDC has been organizing protests like these since May which have sometimes turned violent.

Hot on the heels of the decision of the Malawian Constitutional Court to nullify the May 2019 Presidential election, it seems that President Mutharika is now openly instigating a crackdown on those civil society leaders who were at the forefront of protests and legal action to challenge his election.

On Sunday two leaders of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka were arrested. In the words of one activist "the President today declared war against HRDC in Malawi."

Since the Constitutional Court judgment in February 2020, tensions in Malawi have increased as government prevaricates on what to do about the judgment and the discredited head of the Electoral Commission, Jane Ansah, resists calls to step down. As a result the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), and others, were planning a "citizen's electoral justice march" to the State House on 25 March.

However, it seems President Peter Mutharika has decided his patience with freedom of speech and political assembly is over. On Sunday he called the HRDC a "terrorist network" and earlier on the same day at a political rally of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Secretary General, Grizedar Jeffrey, was filmed warning Timothy Mtambo (another...

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