Malawi anti-government activists freed on bail

A Malawi court on Thursday granted bail to three anti-government activists arrested for planning protests against President Peter Mutharika’s attempts to quash upcoming elections.

The leaders of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC are accused of contravening country’s police act by mobilising people to close down the homes of top government officials.

HRDC have been spearheading nationwide protests since last May’s disputed elections.

Malawi’s constitutional court last month annulled election results showing Mutharika was the winner with 35.8 percent, and called for fresh elections because of irregularities.

Timothy Mtambo, Gift Trapence and Macdonald Sembereka had vowed to shut down three presidential state residences last week in a bid to force Mutharika to ratify electoral bills passed in parliament.

The trio were arrested between Sunday and Tuesday and all pleaded not guilty. On Thursday they were granted bail by a magistrate court.

Mutharika’s re-election was nullified last month because of widespread irregularities, including the use of correction fluid on tally sheets.

The constitutional court ordered officials to hold a new presidential election within 150 days.

But for those elections to be organised, the president has to agree to the new bills.

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an electoral commission attempt halt the execution of the annullment of last May’s election.

The electoral commission had sought a stay order until an appeal against the entire constitutional ruling was heard.

It is the first time a presidential election has been challenged on legal grounds in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964, and only the second poll result to be cancelled in Africa after the 2017 Kenya presidential vote.

Malawi anti-government activists freed on bail