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United Nations concerned with violence
in Malawi ahead of next year’s polls

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- The United Nations (UN) in Malawi has expressed concern over incidences of violence taking place in the country 12 months ahead of elections in May 2019.

In a statement signed by UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres, released Wednesday, the UN said it is much concerned that the incidences are taking place at the beginning of the electoral period.

The statement cites the assault of a local media photo journalist at the country’s National Assembly on Friday, May 4, while President Peter Mutharika was delivering State of the Nation Address to mark the opening of the country’s 2018/19 national budget session.

The UN has asked authorities to investigate and, where relevant, prosecute the perpetrators including those who threatened and intimidated two members of parliament during the opening of the budget meeting at parliament.

“The UN underlines the importance of full respect for the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and political participation including for women,” read the statement.

It also reminded the authorities in the country that promotion of conditions for credible, free and fair elections in 2019 requires a climate of tolerance and respect for the rule of law that enables citizens’ participation and equal representation, including for women.

The UN statement comes after President Mutharika and his deputy, Saulos Chilima, in separate statements joined the country’s Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) in condemning the acts of violence.

Government also apologized to the media fraternity in the country over the weekend through Minister of Information and Communications Technology, who is also Malawi government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi.

A group of youth clad in black suits and believed to be supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stirred the violence at the Parliament building on Friday barring two DPP parliamentarians from entering the chamber and beating up the photo journalist for filming the ordeal.

The unruly youth barred the two legislators apparently for their alleged support to the movement that is pushing for the presidency of the Vice President Chilima in 2019 polls.



COMESA and EU sign deal to enhance Zambia-Malawi trade

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Africa’s biggest trading bloc, COMESA, has signed a financing agreement with the European Union (EU) aimed at enhancing trade facilitation between Zambia and Malawi, a state-run news agency reported on Wednesday.

The four-year 13.5 million euros agreement, signed in eastern Zambia’s Chipata town, was meant to contribute to infrastructure development, improved trade, private sector development, among others at border entries of the two countries, according to the Zambia News and Information Service.

Alessandro Mariani, the head of the EU delegation in Zambia, said at the signing ceremony that the funds were part of a total envelop of 85 million euros allocated to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for development programs in Zambia and Malawi, which also includes good governance and the fight against climate change.

Sindiso Ngwenya, the Secretary-General of COMESA said cross border innovation plays a critical role in trade integration in the region but noted that there was need for governments to engage cross-border traders in the decision-making process for smooth implementation of policies.


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