One police officer died Tuesday in violent clashes between protesters and law enforcers at Lilongwe’s Msundwe Trading Centre, police have confirmed.
The angry mob was protesting President Peter Mutharika’s holding of a rally in Lilongwe, considered the stronghold of Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
“We feel the president is being politically insensitive by holding a political rally in Lilongwe at a time there is political tension in the country following the disputed May 21 election results,” said one of the protesters.
Tension started simmering around Msundwe area as early as 6 o’clock in the morning as protesters blocked the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road with burning tyres.
The development rendered the area impassable. The police reacted by throwing teargas canisters at the protesters.
A cat-and-mouse chase then ensued between the protesters and the police, resulting in the serious injury of one policeman who later died in hospital.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, confirmed the death of the police officer, identified as Superintendent Usumani Imedi.
He also said police have arrested 12 people in connection with the incident.
“We have lost a police officer at Msundwe [who was] killed by rioters and criminals this morning. More details to come [after establishing all the facts],” Kadadzera said.
He also confirmed the death of another policeman who was injured during August 6 2019 anti-Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson (Mec) Jane Ansah demonstrations.
The running battles at Msundwe continued in the afternoon as police continued to use teargas to disperse the rioters.
The angry protesters also burnt a truck which purportedly ferried Democratic Progressive Party supporters to Mutharika’s rally held at Kamuzu Institute for Sports.
While the levels of adrenaline were high in Nsundwe, it was business as usual in Lilongwe Central Business District (CDB) as businesses remained open.
Scores of soldiers and police officers were spotted around Kawale and Kamuzu Institute for Sports where Mutharika held two meetings.
Speaking during the rally, Mutharika described the death of the police officer as regrettable, and observed a minute of silence in his honour.
“I am deeply touched with how our police officer has been killed at Msundwe. Let us spare a minute of silence to remember him,” Mutharika said.
However, the President, in his remarks throughout the rally, avoided touching on the events that led to the killing of the policeman. Instead, he focused on imploring Malawians to pacify and stop plundering public property.
“I am still your leader, so get used to it. Let us unite. We are all Malawians and we must be one,” he said.
Since the May 21 tripartite elections, there have been protests against the results of the polls.
MCP President, Lazarus Chakwera, and his UTM counterpart, Saulos Chilima, are challenging the outcome of the elections in court, which they say were marred by many irregularities.
Mec declared Mutharika winner of the elections.—Additional reporting by Jameson Chauluka