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UN chief condemns Malawi violence

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Mark Botomani

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has condemned Malawi’s political violence ahead of the fresh presidential election that has seen two people losing their lives.

Speaking at a press briefing on key issues across the world in New York, Guterres’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric de la Rivière, said the UN boss expressed concern over the mounting violence and extended his condolences to the family of the deceased.

Rivière said Guterres noted the judgment of the Supreme Court that was delivered on May 8 and urged all players to uphold the rule of law, human rights and peace as Malawians are particularly taking action to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“UN extended condolences to families of the civilians, including a child, who lost their lives due to the arson attack in Lilongwe last week. UN expresses concern over the mounting violence in Malawi,” he said.

Rivière said the UN Malawi team, under the leadership of Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, continues to actively support the people of Malawi and all stakeholders in their efforts to preserve calm.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) acting chairperson Gift Trapence hailed the UN for condemning political violence that is being perpetrated in the country.

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“HRDC wants justice for the victims of the violence. We want the police to arrest those responsible for the acts of violence. Our police is so compromised that they don’t do anything if the suspects of such violence are connected to the Democratic Progressive Party government,” Trapence said.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera told The Daily Times that they have opened case files in all incidents reported including the assault on UTM political party monitors in Mulanje, torching of the party’s vehicle in Balaka and the Area 22 arson attack.

“We are following all the leads and we are optimistic that the assailants will all be traced, arrested and prosecuted. We are also condemning the spate of political violence taking root in our country,” he said.

Government spokesperson Mark Botomani said the government does not condone any form of violence, whether politically motivated or otherwise.

“President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has always emphasised the need for the country to maintain peace, law and order. This is the reason why even during the violent demonstrations, the President continued to preach peace,” Botomani said.

He added: “The Area 22 incident is regrettable. However, government would like to emphasise the point that this incident is being investigated by the Malawi Police Service, so it is not right to conclude at this point that it was politically motivated until we receive results of the investigation.”

He said the government will continue to be the custodian of peace and urged all political party leaders to exercise restraint in their speeches during rallies “as this has potential to destabilise the country”.

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