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Arrest demonstration looters—HRDC

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has asked Malawi Police Service to arrest all people who would attempt to turn the demonstrations slated for Thursday and Friday into platforms for anarchy and looting.

Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Tuesday, HRDC Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, said the demonstrations, which will be held in 11 districts across the country, are expected to be peaceful.

Mtambo said attacking business premises does not make sense as the traders are equally worried with the way Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) handled the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

“We had a meeting with Malawi Police Service and we have assured them that the demonstrations would be peaceful. Anyone who will attempt to turn the situation into [a platform for promoting] anarchy and chaos would be arrested by the police.

“We are not saying that the people should not be angry, but we are saying that one can still express dissatisfaction without destroying other people’s properties,” Mtambo said.

The social media was Tuesday awash with reports that the demonstrations would target a specific commercial bank.

HRDC Vice Chairperson, Gift Trapence, described the proposed attacks on the bank as barbaric.

“We distance ourselves from this and would like to call upon the Malawi Police Service to arrest anyone seen vandalising or encouraging people to loot and attack businesses using social media,” Trapence said.

HRDC member, Luke Tembo, said their role was to provide a platform where Malawians could freely express their grievances against how Mec handled the elections.

This will be the second time HRDC is organising demonstrations calling for Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah’s resignation in the aftermath of the elections.

The first round of demonstrations took place in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba cities and attracted mammoth crowds.

However, despite mounting pressure, Ansah has refused to resign, describing such calls as mob justice.

Minister of Information, Mark Botomani, Tuesday expressed surprise as to why HRDC was proceeding with the demonstrations, saying Malawians were happy with the state of affairs in the country which, he claimed, had resulted in improved donor confidence, among other things.

“As the government, we are yet to come up with a stance regarding the demonstrations but, honestly, it doesn’t make any sense to me to see people planning demonstrations despite the way things have improved under President Peter Mutharika,” Botomani said.

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