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Lilongwe City Council blocks State House demonstrations

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Anthony Kasunda

Lilongwe City Council (LCC) has blocked Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) from holding peaceful protests at State House in Lilongwe Thursday, saying it was a protected place.

HRDC, last Friday, after its third wave of demonstrations took place in Lilongwe and other regions, announced that if Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah would not resign, they would hold peaceful protests nationwide, including right at all State houses.

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In a letter addressed to HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo, Vice-Chairperson Gift Trapence and committee member Billy Mayaya, LCC Chief Executive Officer John Chome attributes the decision to bar the civil society organisations from holding the protests at the State House to the fact that it is a protected place.

“We would like to inform you that your peaceful demonstrations that you intend to hold on July 22 and 25 2019 and deliver the petition at Kamuzu Palace has not been granted. Kamuzu Palace is a State residence and, therefore, a protected area and the council would not allow you to demonstrate to the State residence in violation of section 103 of the Police Act,” the letter reads in part.

Blantyre City Council Public Relations Manager, Anthony Kasunda, Mercy Chaluma of Zomba City Council and Mzuzu City Council’s Macdonald Gondwe, separately, said they were not aware of HRDC’s application to hold the demonstrations.

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HRDC Vice-Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said they held demonstrations at the State House against attacks on persons with albinism and there was nothing new about the laws.

“This is just a lame excuse to curtail the rights of Malawians to demonstrate,” Trapence said.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said they were always prepared to provide security to the demonstrators provided the law is followed.

HRDC has been calling for the resignation of Ansah for allegedly administering what they call fraudulent polls.

Ansah insists she would not resign, calling such calls as mob justice.

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