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Article by Danga Maghogho

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  • susan umstot
    Hey everyone, Hope all is well wherever this finds you. I m not sure if everyone is up to date on what s been going on with the political situation and
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2002

      3 October 2002


      I am writing to request your assistance in securing a fair trail for Mr. Danga Mughogho, who was falsely charged with �conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace� by the Malawi government.  Mr. Mughogho is a Malawian citizen who lives and works in the northern region capital of Mzuzu.  He has been a frequent and outspoken contributor to the opinion pages of the major opposition newspaper in Malawi and was recently elected northern regional chairman of a new political party called the Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (MAFUNDE).

      On September 17th, 2002, Mr.Mughogho was arrested while sounding his horn in Mzuzu to indicate his opposition to the efforts of the ruling party, the United Democratic Front (UDF), to amend the constitution so that the incumbent president, Bakili Muluzi, can stand for election for a third term of office in 2004. The constitution of Malawi currently mandates a maximum of two presidential terms.
      Criticism of the government�s moves to amend the constitution has been widespread in Malawi; from opposition parties, the leaders of all the major Christian denominations, NGOs and civil society, all of whom argue that changing the constitution to suit one individual is a dangerous throwback to the dictatorial life presidency of Kamuzu Banda. However, state control and censorship of the airwaves has meant that opposition voices are not permitted on radio and television, the primary means of communication in a country where literacy levels are very low.
      Mr. Mughogho was initially denied bail but after his supporters protested outside the Mzuzu police station for 2 days, bail was granted on September 19th.  He is scheduled to appear in court on October 8th, 2002 to answer the charges against him.
      According to the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), the President of Malawi, Bakili Muluzi banned any demonstrations for or against the proposed constitutional amendment and Mr. Mughogho is the first person arrested since that warning was issued.  However, a large rally held by UDF supporters in favor of the third term amendment in Blantyre last week resulted in no arrests or censure by the President.
      I am appealing for your help and support because I believe that Mr. Mughogho has been unfairly charged by the government for exercising his constitutionally protected right to demonstrate peacefully.  I am also concerned that he may not receive a fair trial because it appears he is being used as a scapegoat by the government to deter the efforts of Malawians opposed to the constitutional amendment.
      Please, sir, do all that you can to see that the charges again Mr. Mughogho are dropped.

      former resident of Malawi

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