UN orders Malawi govt release 2 activists in custody

The United Nations has demanded the Malawi government authorities to immediately release in custody the country’s two prominent human rights activists arrested Tuesday on accusations that they had mismanaged donor funding.

Gift Trapence ,the Director of Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), and MacDonald Sembereka have been taking lead positions in organising national wide protests under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition, to force Jane Ansah, the Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to resign who is facing public accusation of managing the May 21, general Elections in favor of incumbent President Peter Mutharika.

 

Standing right is Gift Trapence, a human rights activist arrested, and standing right is Timothy Mtambo, chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition

Many people in the Sub Saharan nation are expressing disatisfaction with the out come of the Presintial results which were marred by several irregularities such as tampering figures on vote sheets with a correction fluid,Tipex ,mostly in favor of Mutharika.

The MEC Chairperson said during the polls there were 147 received complaints regarding the elections but was not clear on how she resolved them.

Two opposition parties which came second and third are challenging the results in court, but the human rights activists have continued to organise the protests againist Ansah, who has apparently refused to resign.

President Mutharika has described the national wide protests by the CSOs as a desperate attempt by the CSOs and opposition parties to overthrow his government, and has challenged that he would not allow lawlessness to have a room in the country.

Mutharika challenged to deal with the activists severely.

The police arrested the two from their homes on accusations that Trapence mismanaged almost US$9.6000 funding for his organisation from UNAIDS while Sembeleka was accused of running a bogus organisation.

“We received a complaint from an international NGO about embezzlement of funds by the two ,” said James Kadazera, the National Police Spokesman.

But Billy Mayaya , another human rights activist and Timothy Mtambo ,the Chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition described the arrests as politically motivated and aimed at silencing the government”s critical voices .

“Let me warn government that we shall not be silenced with such politically motivated arrests. We shall fight for the truth and Malawians,” Mtambo told Report Focus News .

But a leaked memo by the UN addressed to the Malawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,and Inspector General of Malawi Police indicates that the issues involving the two were amicably resolved internally .

“The United Nations would like to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Malawi police Service’s immediate cooperation to release those individuals from police custody,” reads part of the memo.

By the time we were writing this article, the two were remanded at Maula prison in the captal, Lilongwe and we’re expecting to appear before court bail application hearing on Friday.

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