Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has called for an immediate release of its party cadres, including a member of parliament arrested while protesting in the streets alleging irregularities in the May 21 presidential race narrowly won by President Peter Mutharika.
The Malawi Police Service said 18 people were arrested in the capital, Lilongwe, on Thursday on charges including malicious damage and proposing violence but called the current situation in the country “very calm.”
Addressing a news conference on Saturday at the party headquarters in Lilongwe, Chakwera said Section 38 of Malawi Constitution guarantees the right for everyone to assemble and demonstrate their grievances.
“Release them now. Release them unconditionally. We don’t have to negotiate about their release,” said Chakwera.
“Our lawyers went to police and courts to seek bail for the arrested MCP supporters. It is unfortunate that bail was denied but we will continue seeking justice,” he said.
He also accused police of using excessive force on protestors and spraying tear gas, saying President Peter Mutharika should say sorry to United States ambassador Virginia Palmer who on Thursday was caught up in tear gas fired by police against protesters while she met with Chakwera.
He said Palmer sent him a text after both had run away from the building due to the teargas to find out if he was safe.
“I told him that I am safely home and she said she wanted to send a rescue team,” said Chakwera.
The U.S. has called for restraint.
Chakwera also said he held talks with the UTM president Saulos Chilima over the political issues and lawers from both parties are talking over the poll case which is now in the Constitutional Court.