Freedom House welcomes the Malawian government’s decision today to temporarily suspend its pernicious anti-homosexuality laws. This is a positive first step in ending the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons; however, Freedom House calls upon the parliament to repeal all legislation that criminalizes homosexuality and for the government to take steps to ensure the safety of all LGBT persons.
Nearly two years after a wave of popular uprisings began in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a lack of substantive institutional reform has left states struggling to maintain democratic achievements, according to a new Freedom House report. The findings illuminate reform failures that have contributed to recent violence across the MENA region.
Freedom House commends the orderly transfer of power and respect for Malawi’s constitution, following the swearing in of former vice president, Joyce Banda on April 7. The decision for Banda to assume power comes after former president Bingu wa Mutharika died last week from massive cardiac arrest. Banda is the first female head of state in southern Africa, and will remain president until the country’s next elections in 2014.
Freedom House calls for a peaceful and orderly transition of power in Malawi following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. State media reported on April 5 that the 78-year-old president was hospitalized in the capital city of Lilongwe and then transferred to South Africa for treatment. Although the government has withheld an official announcement, BBC and Reuters cite doctors and cabinet ministers who confirmed the president’s death following cardiac arrest. Under the constitution, Vice President Joyce Banda should assume the presidency until the next elections in 2014.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.