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Peter Mutharika against protesters

By Richard Chirombo:

President Peter Mutharika Thursday slammed people who are protesting the May 21 presidential election results, saying he had ordered the armed forces to safeguard people’s lives and property.

He further accused Malawi Congress Party (MCP) of fanning the protests and disrupting both public and private business.

Mutharika said this in an address to the nation yesterday evening, a development that came at a time demonstrations have rocked Lilongwe City and districts such as Dowa and Nkhotakota.

Mutharika said people should be left to “provide for our families and, together, build our Nation”.

“Many of us are peace-loving Malawians who want to continue going about our normal lives uninterrupted. We want to continue going to work and do our businesses in order to provide for our families and together build our Nation.

“As you might be aware, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters intruded into the Capital Hill in Lilongwe a couple of days ago. These MCP supporters interrupted civil servants and other people who were working at Capital Hill and forced each one of them to leave the Capital Hill,” he said.

He called for the restoration of order, saying civil servants wanted to continue serving people, providing services such health and education programmes even to those interrupting such processes.

He accused MCP leader, Lazarus Chakwera, of attempting to ignore the democratic electoral process and its results, citing the opposition party’s legal battles before Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Jane Ansah announced presidential election results on May 27.

Mec declared Mutharika the winner, after he got 1,940,709 votes. Chakwera registered 1,781,740 votes, with UTM leader Saulos Chilima getting 1,018,369 votes.

“We had an Election which all international observers declared peaceful, free, fair and credible.

While counting of votes was in progress, and before the winner was known, Malawi Congress Party started pressurising Malawi Electoral Commission to declare Reverend Chakwera as the winner. Suddenly, MCP went to court to stop the Malawi Electoral Commission from announcing the same results they had pressured the Electoral Commission to announce. After their injunction was vacated, results were announced and I was declared the winner. Then MCP has gone to court again to ask the court to nullify the results.

“Instead of waiting for the court to do its job and the judicial process to take its course, Reverend Chakwera is mobilising illegal demonstrations that are disrupting everybody’s life. Before these demonstrations, we have seen a disturbing wave of violence being inflicted on innocent Malawians soon after Reverend Chakwera called for violence in his statement. Most Malawians are now wondering what Reverend Chakwera wants,” he said.

However, MCP secretary general, Eisenhower Mkaka, dismissed the president’s claims, accusing him of being offensive instead of reconciliatory.

“Look here, it’s public knowledge, it’s an open secret, that the May 21 elections were nothing but some fraud. I wonder where the President heard international observers say the elections were credible. I have heard some institutions questioning election results management.

“He is talking of the law taking its course and, at the same time, issuing threats. Malawians are mourning, Malawians are crying. The speech adds some salt to a festering would,” Mkaka said.

On protests, he said the party had nothing to do with them.

“It is not MCP that is demonstrating. It is the people that are demonstrating. Malawi Congress Party has not sanctioned any demonstration. The people are demonstrating freely without any sanction from the party,” he said.

Mutharika’s address came shortly after the African Union (AU) Southern Africa Regional Office condemned the excessive use of force by the law enforcers in the country.

According to a press release issued Thursday, AU regional delegate, Auguste Ngomo, says his office is concerned with post-election events happening in Malawi, following the declaration of the results of elections.

It further calls on all parties involved to maintain and safeguard peace and order and restrain from provocative activities.

Earlier in the day, police teargassed Chakwera and United States Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, who were rocked up in a meeting at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe.

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