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Protesters, police clash

Demonstrations to continue

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ANGER, FIRE—A tyre
burning on the road near Parliament building

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Police and protesters clashed during the latest round of three-day demonstrations which started in Lilongwe Tuesday, in the latest push for Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Jane Ansah’s resignation for allegedly mismanaging May 21 tripartite elections.

Police fired teargas canisters to disperse large crowds that gathered at Lilongwe Community Centre for the demonstrations, sparking running battles that saw the protesters chase the law enforcers while allowing Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officers to provide security.

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The incident happened shortly after organisers again Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, had announced route change of the protests.

The protesters pelted stones at police officers, accusing them of failing to protect HRDC leaders during last week’s demonstrations in Blantyre where the coalition’s member Billy Mayaya was attacked by suspected Democratic Progressive Party cadets.

However, the demonstrators gathered again at Police Mobile Service traffic lights T-junction in Lilongwe, heading towards Mchesi via Chilambula then Area 18 and Parliament road, heading to their last stop at Capital Hill.

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Mtambo has since vowed that demonstrations, which run for three consecutive days from Tuesday, will continue up to Friday.

Mtambo said they were disappointed by the conduct of some police officers for not living up to what they had, on the eve of the protests during a preparatory meeting involving MDF and city council officers, promised to provide security to the protesters.

“What has happened is an indication that acting Inspector General [IG] of Malawi Police Service [Duncan Mwapasa] is involved in all this. Why is it that the police fired teargas [canisters] at people who are unarmed? We condemn the conduct of police officers,” Mtambo said.

Mtambo warned that if Mwapasa is confirmed as IG, people would hold demonstrations in all 193 constituencies in the country.

Earlier before the start of the march, HRDC member Solomon Phiri updated protesters on the Supreme Court ruling which Justice Lovemore Chikopa delivered on Monday.

Since June 20, HRDC has been holding demonstrations demanding the resignation of Ansah and other Mec commissioners, saying they failed to manage the elections results properly.

Mec declared President Peter Mutharika the winner of the presidential election with 1, 940,709 votes, followed by Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera’s 1,781,740 votes and 1,018,369 votes for UTM’s Saulos Chilima.

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