Attorney General assures JB govt will not stop demos

The Joyce Banda government will not stop Malawians from taking to the streets any time they feel something is not right but authorities  will regulate such demonstrations to ensure they are peaceful, Minister of Justice and Attorney General , Ralph Kasambala has said.

However, the minister did not elaborate what ‘regulate’ will mean in the handling of such demonstrations by government.

At least 20 people were gunned down by police after they used live ammunition to break up unprecedented nationwide demonstrations protesting against the late president Bingu wa Mutharika  regime’s worsening economic, political and human rights situation.

Kasambara: JB will not be ruthless like Mutharika

Rule of law

Kasambala said the current government cherishes the rule of law and democracy adding that demonstrations were a safety valve of democracy and are enshrined int he Republican  constitution.

“The 20thJuly 2011 demonstrations were not the first demonstrations to happen in the history of Malawi nor were they the first that the Malawi Police had handled. But something weird and foolish happened that is why we are talking of deaths,” he explained.

The Minister said this at Mzuzu University on Friday evening during a public debate on the
reflections of events of 20th July 2011.

Other panellists at the debate included Alliance for Democracy (Aford) political director Dan Msowoya and Nyasa Times columnist on democracy and human rights, Emily Mkamanga.

Kasambala attributed the tragedy of 20 July to events that occurred on the 19th of July describing them as “foolish”.

Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Youth Cadets, the party’s youth wing, wielded knives on the streets of Blantyre on the eve of the demonstrations in 2011.

Tens of machete men rode in DPP branded blue pick-up vehicles wielding knives and chanting ‘Those Who Ridicule the Ruler Won’t Sleep, We’ll Harm Them’.

Another DPP operative Chiza Mbekeani obtained a court injunction at the eleventh hour to stop the nationwide demos.

Criminal accountability

The Attorney General said through the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, 90 percent of what happened is now known saying the remaining 10 percent will be known through the court process.

“If any reconciliation is to take place then we must know what happened. People must accept full responsibility, there must be proper criminal accountability and reparations must be paid,” Kasambala said.

But Mkamanga said reconciliation will be a hurdle because people who are trying to be reconciled are jobless and frustrated.

“You cannot calm a needy man,” she said.

While Msowoya said reconciliation is possible even in instances where heinous crimes have been committed citing the election of former warlords into parliament in Liberia.

“There should be every means and capacity in a government that takes problems from previous government. Paying out reparations will be one way to kick start the reconciliation process,” he said.

Sources say a number of politicians and police officers are lined up for arrest and prosecution following the inquiry report.

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