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Heavy police presence in Blantyre

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In Blantyre, there was heavy presence of police as hundreds of people marched peacefully from Kamuzu Upper Stadium down to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Roundabout, before turning back on the same Masauko Chipembere Highway to Chichiri Roundabout near the shopping mall before branching off to deliver their petition to Blantyre District Council Officials who were at Blantyre City Offices.

The demonstrators stopped at few strategic places where they highlighted some of the challenges in the petition which they later presented to the government.

They stopped at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) as they called for opening of the state controlled broadcaster to opposition parties; they stopped at the University of Malawi’s the Polytechnic as they called for action on the death of Robert Chasowa and lastly, at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital as they called for action on the deteriorating health sector.

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Coordinator of the demonstrators Masauko Thawe hailed all the people who came to demonstrate.

“These are not few people. These are more than the people we expected. They are the ones who have issues with the government,” he said.

Sheikh Jafali Kawinga, Publicity Secretary of Quadiriya Muslim of Malawi took advantage of the demonstration to ask President Peter Mutharika to fire Julius Pipe as Democratic Progressive Party – DPP’s Regional Governor in the Eastern region for verbally attacking Muslims.

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“I brought a placard which says Pipe should be removed as Regional Governor. What he said that voting for Muslims is like voting for war is against the country’s constitution which provides for right to freedom of religion. We all know that Muslims and Christians have always lived in peace even when a Muslim, Bakili Muluzi was President,” he said.

In the end, the demonstrators presented their petition to Charles Mphepo, Human Resources Manager for Blantyre District Council who represented District Commissioner Bennet Nkasala.

Several prominent figures attended the march including Abida Mia, wife to MCP member Sidik Mia who said she came out to say enough was enough on the problems facing Malawians.

Government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi thanked Malawians for holding peaceful demonstrations in all the cities and towns and justified heavy presence of police and even the army on the streets.

“A lot of people died in 2011 and it was you the media who until now say the government killed people. Why are you questioning presence of the Army? You wanted people to died again?” he queried.

Dausi however said he could not comment on the concerns raised by the CSOs, saying he was yet to see the petition.

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