Malawi’s major opposition leaders who participated in the last month’s presidential race and they are disputing them results in court on Thursday came together to lead anti-government protests held across the country.
The marches, organised by civil action groups, started peacefully in the four major cities of the country as thousands of Malawians are protesting results of the May 21 Presidential elections which declared President Peter Mutharika winner and want to force Jane Ansah and all Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners resign.
President Mutharika was sworn in for a second term in Malawi late last month, but opposition protesters are challenging the legitimacy of his recent re-election, based on widespread allegations of vote-rigging.
UTM Party president Saulos Chilima – immediate past State vice president – boosted the morale of the marchers when he joined them in Lilongwe before Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera joined and walked together in the frontline.
Clad in red golf shirt and camouflage trousers, Chilima urged the protesters to be peaceful but said this was the right to demonstrate against the manipulation of the presidential election in favour of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Mutharika.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said while the demonstrations might be against MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign, it is important not to miss the bigger message being sent by the large crowds that have attended these demonstrations.
“ The bigger message being sent is that the majority of Malawians do not want President Mutharika to be there leader, and this is partly expressed by the MEC results which showed that at least 62% rejected him,” he said,
“In the absence of 50%+1 electoral system, President Mutharika’s legitimacy will continue to be challenged,” added the governance expert.
In Lilongwe, among others who joined included UTM publicist Joseph Chidanti Malunga, MCP director of youth Richard Chimwendo Banda as well as First Gentleman Richard Banda and other party officials from both UTM and MCP as well as Peoples Party.
In Blantyre, UTM director of youth Bon Kalindo joined the protesters together with UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati and other civil rights activists on the march.
However, the demonstration were getting out of hand as protestors pulled down President Mutharika’s banner at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.
Police fired teargas to the protestors but they were not relenting.
Whilst in Zomba, Public Affairs Committee publicity secretary Reverend Father Peter Mulomole was with the protesters.
In Mzuzu, CCAP Livingstonia synod general secretary Rev Levi Nyondo as well as other activists was marching against the presidential poll results.
Some members of Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had threatened to disrupt the protests, but the event passed off without clashes.
This comes after Malawi police fired teargas on Wednesday to disperse protestors blocking the M1 main route into Lilongwe as President Mutharika was due to enter the capital from the Southern Region.
In the end, the president entered Lilongwe by a different route.
There is very tight security in all the major cities as the protests are progressing well.
A panel of five judges will rule Friday whether or not to dismiss the election case, as requested by lawyers for Mutharika and his DPP.
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