Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) have learnt with chock and suspicion news that Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) house in Lilongwe has been gutted down by fire. As CHRR and Cedep gather, the incident has destroyed 1,500 ballot boxes and other related electoral materials. This is no doubt an unfortunate reversal to the country’s hard-earned democracy.
Looking at the time of the event, CHRR and Cedep can’t help getting suspicious of some underhand machinations in the whole incident. All and sundry is aware that the warehouse was housing ballot papers which were---until the court injunction a couple of days ago--- ear-marked for a recount following the disputed parliamentary poll results in the Lilongwe City South East Constituency. As such, CHRR and Cedep expect nothing short of expeditious and thorough investigations into the matter. We expect the Police to exercise professionalism and integrity for good of the country when investigating the matter. Otherwise, fire has denied the constituents and Malawians in general the truth on who was the legitimate winner between the DPP’s hopeful his MCP counterpart.
Meanwhile, CHRR and Cedep call upon MEC to desist from rushing into describing the incident as normal. Such kind of a statement---coming from an institution like MEC-- can potentially thwart the quality of investigations into incident.
As recommendations, CHRR and Cedep are of the view that:
- Following the fire that has destroyed all the ballot papers, the only democratic exercise that would be deemed free, fair and credible to all disputants in Lilongwe City South East constituency are the by-elections.
- Government should consider prioritising fire-fighting mechanisms. Of late, the country has lost a lot of property to fire due to delayed fire-fighting by the authorities.
Let’s make a post 50 Malawi a true beacon of democracy, rule of law and human rights.
About CHRR and CEDEP
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) remains one of the leading human rights non-governmental organisations in Malawi. It was founded in February 1995 as a non-profit organization registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act of 1962. Since its inception CHRR has championed its work at national level, SADC level through the SADC Human Rights Defenders Network at which it sits in the board, continental level through the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights using its observer status, and at UN level through different UN mechanisms such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) and Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Centre for Development of the People (CEDEP) is a registered human rights organisation under the Trustees Incorporation Act of 1962. The organization was established in November 2005 in order to address the needs and challenges of minority groups in Malawi in the context of human rights, health and social development. CEDEP works also at international level using international mechanisms such as the African commission and UN mechanisms such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
Timothy Mtambo Gift Trapence
Executive Director CHRR Executive Director CEDEP)
Cell: 0992166191 Cells: 0991573514
Issued on Wednesday, 16h July, 2014/Lilongwe