Pressure is mounting on Malawi’s government to release three activists detained this week for planning to hold protests aimed at shutting down presidential residences.
Two members of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) — vice chairperson Gift Trapence and member Macdonald Sembereka — were arrested Sunday after saying they would organize demonstrations. HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo surrendered to police Tuesday.
Their aim was to pressure President Peter Mutharika to sign electoral reform bills paving the way for fresh elections after Malawi’s constitutional court nullified last May’s polls. The court cited massive irregularities in the vote, which saw Mutharika reelected.
The electoral bills propose a date for fresh elections and procedures to follow in case of runoffs.
Police say Mtambo, Trapence and Sembereka will face charges of inciting people to close state residences, under Section 124 of the Penal Code.