number 7, december 11, 1998

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Malawi president won't sign death penalty

The President of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi, has sent a message of greetings to the WCC and, in a reference to human rights discussions at the assembly, stated that he will never sign the death sentence for a fellow human being.

Describing the council’s establishment 50 years ago as "a beautiful commitment to unity in a world so often divided", he says the assembly is a very important gathering in Africa, "which is so often torn by war, poverty and fear".

Noting that the experience of "Padare, a Shona term for ‘a place of encounter and dialogue’" would include debates on the 50th anniversary of the United Nation Declaration on Human Rights, President Muluzi says:

"Together with the many Malawians who will be present for this Assembly in Harare, are the members of the Alleluya Band with their songs of joy and participation in the development of our society. I would like to entrust a personal message to them as informal ambassadors of our country at this gathering.

"Malawi is a small country. Yet our 12 million people make a large family. Our nation often experiences poverty. Yet our people are rich in humanity. Our nation has only recently become a democracy and we are trying to learn to live together, as African brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the one God.

"Among the many themes to be discussed at the Padare, will be the promotion of Human Rights and the sacredness of the right to life for every person. I have promised Amnesty International that I will never sign the Death Sentence for a fellow human being. I would like to reaffirm this commitment. Life is sacred, I believe a person can form, I believe that forgiveness makes all of us better persons.

"In the cause of truth and justice, I invite all Heads of State in Africa, our common home, to abolish the Death Sentence, to work for the removal of violence among our peoples and so to prepare a better future for our children.

"As a Moslem, I want to say to the believers in Jesus, to all the Christians gathered in Harare for this historic meeting: ‘May Allah, the All-Merciful, guide your discussions and give you the strength you will need to implement resolutions promoting a culture of peace.’

"Through the voices and songs of the Alleluya Band, may this message bring you joy."

Related documents and articles:

Declaration on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Read other articles in this issue:

Union wants WCC to tackle Mugabe on banning strikes
Padare: the good and the bad story
Africans put their case to the West
Take Black Theology seriously, WCC told
Polygamy issue resolved
African 'gentility, humility' model for next millennium
Africa's gift of Ubuntu
Don't turn other cheek, women victims told
Churches want state to re-regulate markets
Malawi president won't sign death penalty
Chaz is all over the campus

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor