Malawi?s presidential election is May 19, but the American citizen who was arrested and deported apparently in connection with the elections is now speaking out.
Micah Harris, who has described himself as the director of international public relations for independent presidential candidate James Nyondo, was deported earlier this month by Malawian authorities for allegedly working for gain while on a tourist visa and illegally participating in politics, according to reports quoting Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Ernest Malenga.
Harris, who is now back in the United States, told VOA he wanted to set the record straight about his arrest and deportation.
?What I can tell is the reason that the Minister for Home Land Affairs and Internal Security gave for my deportation in his official statement. He determined that it was in the interest of public safety and order for me to be deported. I suspect that there might be other reasons to motivate that,? he said.
Harris said the government gave a misleading reason for deporting him. ?I think it?s important to understand that that is probably their excuse for deporting me more than it is their reason for deporting me. I would suspect that the reason would have to do with the fact that I was a friend of one of the opposition candidates, James Nyondo,? he said.
Harris was not clear whether he raised money illegally for independent candidate James Nyondo as has been alleged.
?What I tried to do for him is to relate what he was doing and what his vision was for Malawi to people who might not be from Malawi because as you know it?s a Third World country and there?s a lot of outside interest in trying to help the people who have needs and a lot of those people ask questions about who is this man and what he is doing. And since I am from the West I would try to relay to them accurately and clearly what he was doing and what he was about. I would explain to someone who is interested in him (Mr. Nyondo) and what he is doing, and then it is up to them to decide whether and how they would like to support his work,? Harris said.
Asked why he as an American citizen would be a friend and supporter of a presidential candidate in a foreign country, Harris instead accused the Malawian government of not only deporting him but for arresting other supporters of Mr. Nyondo.
?I know that Malawi is a sovereign country and it is their prerogative to determine which foreigner they will allow in their country. The thing that really troubles me though is that my deportation wasn?t the nice way to act. And at the same time they were arresting me they were going after dozens of other street level Malawian supporters of Mr. Nyondo and lacking them up,? he said.
Harris cited as evidence the arrest of other Nyondo supporters in a city south of the Malawian capital, Lilongwe.
"The proof is in the city of Zomgbo which is about three or four hours drive south of the capital, Lilongwe where they arrested 23 supporters of Mr. Nyondo on the same day and then they arrested a few more afterward by going to the home of one of the candidates down there and picking up people for ?loitering? when they?ve come to ask questions,? he said.