The authorities continued suppressing the right to freedom of expression and media freedom through arbitrary regulation, intimidation, harassment, violence and use of oppressive laws. Independent radio and TV stations had their licenses suspended for their perceived critical reporting on political issues. Opposition political party activists and critics were arrested and faced prosecution on various charges, including criminal defamation of the president. Food security deteriorated, and the external debt rose significantly.
On 21 June 2019, Parliament released a controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill for public comment, raising fears of excessive executive powers that would undermine the judiciary. There was heightened tension between supporters of the Patriotic Front (PF) and opposition political parties’ supporters, particularly during by-elections in various parts of the country. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and equal protection of the law was violated during by-elections. The police continued to apply the public order act selectively, targeting opposition party activists.