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11 Mar 2020 | 05:25 AM UTC

Malawi: Nationwide demonstrations likely on March 11-12 /update 4

Political parties are likely to protest nationwide on March 11-12 amid election case appeal; heightened security presence likely around all demonstration sites

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Event

Rallies are likely across the country on Wednesday, March 11, as the Supreme Court of Appeals is set to rule on the legal challenge by President Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) over the annulment of Mutharika's 2019 presidential election victory on Monday, February 3.

Furthermore, the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has called for nationwide protests on Thursday, March 12, to demand electoral reforms along with the release of human right activists from the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) civil society group, arrested on Sunday, March 8. In Lilongwe, protesters are expected to gather at the Lilongwe Community Ground before heading towards the Kamuzu Palace.

The HRDC has also reportedly threatened to shutdown the Senate House in Lilongwe on Wednesday, March 25.

A heightened a security presence is expected across Malawi, and notably in Lilongwe, in the coming days and weeks. Transportation and business disruptions are to be expected around demonstration sites. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

Around 5000 opposition supporters reportedly gathered outside the police station in Lilongwe on March 10, in solidarity of HRDC leaders, before being dispersed with tear gas by police forces.

Election-related demonstrations organized by opposition supporters have been held regularly since May 26, 2019, after voting irregularities were reported during the May 21 general elections. Demonstrators have been calling for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah, accusing her of mishandling the presidential elections. Additionally, protesters are increasingly discontented with President Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a whole.

The Malawian Constitutional Court in Lilongwe annulled Peter Mutharika's 2019 presidential election victory on Monday, February 3, upholding an application submitted by opposition parties. A new vote will be held on Tuesday, May 19.

Advice

Individuals in Malawi are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests, anticipate disruptions to transportation and business and a heightened security presence near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.