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Apam cancels vigil

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) on Saturday suspended its vigil and agreed with Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) that another demonstration be held once President Peter Mutharika returns to Lilongwe.

Chairperson of National Technical Committee on Abuse of Persons with Albinism in Malawi, Hetherwick Ntaba, told the protesters on Saturday they could not meet Mutharika because he was going to the Southern Region to visit flood victims.

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Ntaba assured persons with albinism (pwas) that he would take full responsibility for scheduling the meeting with Mutharika this week.

“I would like to appeal to you that you should go to your respective districts and wait for communication from the Malawi Human Rights Commission to your leadership on the new dates you are supposed to meet the President,” he said.

Ntaba assured pwas community that their security would be guaranteed on their return to their respective districts.

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However, pwas expressed dissatisfaction with the developments.

They said they would hold Ntaba accountable should one of their members get killed or abducted.

Apam President, Overstone Kondowe, said he was not happy with the arrangement because all they wanted was to meet Mutharika.

Kondowe, who was speaking from his hospital bed after being beaten up by police officers on Saturday, said he would wait for the arrangement by the commission as he could not make a decision because he was in pain.

Kondowe and other Apam members were involved in running battles with the police at Kanengo after the association’s members had reportedly blocked the road which Mutharika was to use while returning from Mzuzu.

But Apam Vice General Secretary, Ian Simbota, told The Sunday Times that it was actually the police that blocked the association’s members after they were ordered out of Malawi Institute of Management camps where they were operating from during the vigils.

Meanwhile, MHRC says it will make all the necessary arrangements for people with albinism to meet Mutharika.

Commissioner Martha Chizuma said the decision has come to prevent running battles between Apam members and the police.

“MHRC is taking responsibility and making all necessary arrangements for people with albinism to meet the President. We are expected to discuss with The Office of President and Cabinet to agree on the dates between Monday and Tuesday so that the people should meet the President at all cost,” Chizuma said.

During the fracas, five people, including Kondowe and a police officer, were injured. The police briefly detained eight persons with albinism at Lumbadzi Police Station before they were released after a few hours.

Apam has been holding vigils, demanding the government’s action to stop the abduction and killing of pwas. Since 2014, 24 pwas have been killed for their body tissues which are used for superstition rituals.

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