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MCP supporters, police clash again

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Malawi Police Service officers fired teargas into Malawi Congress Party (MCP) headquarters in Lilongwe Thursday to disperse the party’s supporters who had gathered there.

The incident happened when MCP president, Lazarus Chakwera, was in his office holding a meeting with outgoing United States (US) Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer.

US Public Affairs Officer, Douglas Johnston, Thursday said the incident happened when Palmer visited Chakwera. “Yes, she was visiting Dr. Chakwera today, just as she has been meeting with senior GoM [Government of Malawi] officials and leaders of the major political parties for final meetings as she prepares to depart Malawi,” Johnston said.

He could not comment on the teargas but said they were monitoring the situation.

Chakwera and Palmer left MCP headquarters as teargas was still visible at the premises. US Embassy offices are next to MCP headquarters.

The police officers continued firing the teargas and, at one point, chased journalists who were on duty, threatening to confiscate their equipment.

Two supporters were seriously injured and were rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) for treatment.

Road blocks were mounted—one at Kanengo and Mchinji Road—among several locations in Lilongwe.

The road from KCH to Parliament Building at City Centre was, in the melee, temporarily closed as the supporters reacted by pelting stones at police officers and their vehicles.

This is the second time within 10 days that the police have stormed MCP headquarters. Last week, after a similar incident, over 50 teargas canisters were scattered on the party premises and some vehicles were deflated.

The supporters have been going to the streets protesting against what they are calling “fraudulent” results of the May 21 presidential election.

Last week, Malawi Electoral Commission declared Peter Mutharika the winner of the presidential election with 1,940,709 votes while

MCP president, Lazarus Chakwera, got 1,781,740 votes. UTM leader Saulos Chilima collected 1,018,369 votes.

UTM and MCP have since filed a petition at the High Court seeking nullification of the presidential election results.

National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, Thursday said they had arrested 19 MCP supporters and the party’s Lilongwe City

Centre legislator-elect, Alfred Jiya, for their alleged involvement in the skirmishes.

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