European Union told in the face-“don’t release your report now” as three Malawian journalists get arrested
The European Union were told Wednesday by Malawi Law Society not to release The European Union Observer Mission report on Parliamentary and Presidential elections or risks falling foul of the subjudice rule and besides playing as a catalyst to potential public unrest in Malawi.
The two opposition parties namely the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Transformation Movement (UTM) also poured their scorn on the announcement calling it ill timed.
Malawi held the Presidential as well as Parliamentary elections in May 2019. Unsatisfied with the results of the elections, UTM and MCP took the case to the Constitutional Court. The court has been hearing the case from August 2019 till 21st December 2019. The Constitutional Court announced that judgement will be within 45 days.
A letter from the Law Society of Malawi signed by Burton Chigondongo Mhango its chairman to the European Union Mission says” considering that the outcome of the presidential elections is still in dispute at the Court and given the status of your institution, the Law Society is of the view that releasing your final report at this time risks falling foul of the subjudice rule besides playing as a catalyst to potential public unrest on issues concerning the presidential elections and possibly places your institution in breach of your duty under section 110 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act not to interfere in, or impede the normal course of the election.”
According to Mhango "The Society considers that in the event that your report indicates findings that are contrary to the expectations of some quarters and/or the judgment of the Court does not support the findings of the Observer Mission, there is potential that this might incite violence."
MCP and UTM had earlier communicated that they would not be available if the report would be released Thursday as the timing of the release of the report was wrong because they are waiting for the judgement from the constitutional Court.
Meanwhile The European Union, after seeing the backlash from the public and various organisations said on Wednesday said the report will not be released on Thursday but after the judgement of the Constitutional Court.
“”Thank you, the European Union, for withdrawing your decision to present your report. In case you are not aware, the general view is that you, our development partners - to whom we're always grateful for your support - seem united in deciding to throw Malawians under the bus. Since May 21, your stance on the way elections were handled has been highly partisan, despite overwhelming evidence presented in court showing that the integrity of the elections was hugely compromised. So coming with a report now was akin to poking Malawians in the eye. It is great that you listened. Thank you very much, once again”, commented Kenani, an advocate for change in Malawi.
As the country was enveloped with this scenario three Malawian, Golden Matonga from the Nation Publications Limited, Steve Zimba and Francis Chamasowa, both from Zodiak Broadcasting Station were arrested at the Kamuzu International Airport where they went to cover arrival of a European Union elections observer team. They were charged with “Acts prohibited on aerodrome, behaving in disorderly manner” but were eventually released.