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Rumphi Central in political violence

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By Mandy Pondani:

IN PAIN — Gondwe

Tripartite Elections continues, Rumphi Central Constituency is slowly turning into a hub of political violence, a development which is worrying election stakeholders.

In a latest development, some suspected operatives of Alliance for Democracy (Aford) Thursday assaulted some followers of independent aspiring Member of Parliament (MP) for the area Chidumba Mkandawire, injuring one Reuben Gondwe in the process.

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Gondwe remains admitted to Rumphi Central Hospital.

Gondwe’s cousin Christopher Munthali said in an interview his relative lost seven teeth in the process and part of his cheek was bruised.

He described the incident as unfortunate and a violation of people’s freedom of association as enshrined in the republic’s Constitution.

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Munthali said the suspected Aford supporters allegedly descended on Mkandawire’s supporters close to the boma on their way from an activity which they had at Ng’onga.

“They hurled insults at people and roughed them up saying the area belongs to Aford and no political party has right to hold meetings there,” he said.

While confirming Gondwe’s beating, spokesperson for Rumphi Police Henry Mnjere said no one has been arrested and that investigations are underway.

A medical report that we have seen from Rumphi Hospital indicates that the victim lost four superior molars and three inferior molars and that he has been sutured for a cut on the lower lip.

“Referred from the police having been assaulted with a half brick on the mouth at a party disagreement,” reads part of the medical report.

Mkandawire has condemned the incident saying all politicians should aim at abiding by the campaign code of conduct as prescribed by Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec).

Rumphi Central Constituency Aford Committee Member Maziko Mhango said the bone of contention in the constituency is the decision by Aford and UTM to field parliamentary candidates in the area despite signing an electoral alliance ahead of the elections.

“It is tricky to have Aford president competing with a UTM candidate when they say there is an alliance. We expected an exception at least in Rumphi Central alone; otherwise, this feud will continue and it will be hard to contain,” said Mhango in an interview Friday.

Aford president Enoch Chihana, who is an incumbent, faces Bonnie Lungu of UTM among others.

But Aford spokesperson Khumbo Mwangulu said the two parties agreed to campaign for UTM president Saulos Chilima’s presidential bid while leaving people to elect legislatures of their choice.

“There is nothing confusing about that, those trying to make an issue and create tension are doing that out of ignorance. The Aford-UTM alliance is a formidable force and Vice- President Chilima knows that the North will trust him with the presidency,” Mwangulu said.

On the Thursday incident, Mwaungulu distanced his party from it.

“Anyone can wear Aford regalia and do something just to dent our image. Need I say that Rumphi Central is Aford’s stronghold and it is unfair for people to be provoking our members unnecessarily,” he said.

Three weeks ago, supporters of the two political parties clashed after their candidates worked at outshining each other on the podium during a political rally which UTM president Chilima conducted.

Not long ago, presidential running mate for United Democratic Front Frank Mwenifumbo had his meeting disrupted and some members beaten up at Rumphi Community Ground.

Chilima condemned the incident and asked all party followers to desist from resolving differences through violence.

Meanwhile, Centre for Multiparty Democracy Executive Director Kizito Tenthani has condemned the incidents and called for coexistence among political parties as the campaign period hots up.

Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa has also cautioned parties to abide by the electoral code of conduct.

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