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Southern Region Civil Society Joins Protest/Vigil Postponement

16 August 2011

When the 17 August protest/candlelight vigil was postponed via a press conference in Lilongwe yesterday, I wondered if there might still be a protest in Blantyre, the southern region capital. There hadn’t been any news from the Blantyre-based civil society organizations. But late Monday, Rafiq Hajat, a prominent leader in the demonstrations who is based in Blantyre, confirmed the civil society organizations in the southern region were also postponing the protest/vigil. From his post:

When all is said and done therefore, we hereby join our colleagues in Lilongwe in postponing our anticipated vigil for the next thirty days during which time the United Nations Team can mediate the impasse towards peaceful and equitable resolution thereof. Our peaceful Vigil scheduled for Wednesday, 17th August 2011 has therefore been postponed until 17th September 2011 if no meaningful progress has been achieved.

However, we cannot prevent any Malawians from exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and of expression and would thus not dissuade or prevent our brothers and sisters if they are still determined to go ahead with actions such as staying at home, wearing red clothing, going slow, or walking to work etc. on their own volition. We believe that it is an inalienable constitutional right of all Malawians to hold elected Duty Bearers to account.

We are still sending survey teams to the field in case protests occur, but given this statement from Hajat, I have more doubt about whether large groups will take to the streets.

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