July 21, 2011
For immediate release and posting: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
STATEMENT BY HEIDE BRONKE FULTON, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON
U.S. Condemns Violent Disruption of Protests in Malawi
The United States strongly condemns the use of force by Malawian authorities on July 20 to prevent their own citizens from exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully as well as the ban imposed on media reporting of the confrontations. Denying the right of people to protest peacefully is unacceptable. We are disturbed by reports of violence targeting individuals on account of their political or social affiliations. We are also troubled by the announcement from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) banning all private radio stations from covering the demonstrations. In light of continued rioting and rumors of retaliation, we urge restraint from both sides.
The Malawian people are guaranteed the right to peaceful association and freedom of expression in their constitution. The Government’s attempt to prohibit its citizens from marching, and the regulator’s ban on independent media coverage undermine democracy and the rule of law that Malawians cherish and are seeking to protect. We recall the words of President Mutharika at the April 7 Millennium Challenge Corporation signing ceremony in Lilongwe, that he “will continue to adhere to and uphold democracy and good governance, freedom of expression, freedom of association” and other fundamental freedoms enshrined in Malawi’s constitution.
The United States calls on the people and the Government of Malawi to remain committed to the principles of democracy and to express disagreements through peaceful means.
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