President Peter Mutharika was furious on Thursday when he learnt of violence and looting and ordered Police to arrest immediate past Vice President and UTM president Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera over demonstrations calling for the resignation of beleaguered Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Jane Ansah.
The protesters were seen burning tyres and smashing statues erected on the roundabout near Sunbird Capital while some vandalised Spar shop at City Centre and stole assorted merchandise, predominantly alcoholic beverages and food items.
Mutharika is said to have ordered Police Deputy Inspector General Duncan Mwapasa to arrest the two and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairman Timothy Mtambo, whose organization is organizing the demonstration which turned ugly especially in Mzuzu where some buildings were set on fire.
Inside sources at Area 30 Police Headquarters confided to Nyasa Times that Mwapasa in turn ordered Lilongwe Police Station Officer-in-Charge James Mthali who could not take the order.
“Mthali told them that arresting Chilima, Chakwera and Mtambo will just fuel and breed more trouble for police officers especially those residing in commercial areas,” said the source.
Another government source also corroborated the story saying a visibly angry and disturbed Mutharika ordered Police to arrest the trio accusing them for a fueling violence through the demonstrations.
“Mutharika wants these three arrested and said he doesn’t want any excuses, that was his clear order,” said an impeccable source.
However, the three have been calling demonstrators to demonstrate peacefully and asked Police to arrest anyone who will be found looting and vandalizing property as the demonstrations are ‘peaceful’.
Speaking to an estimated 4 000 protesters at the vigils on Thursday, Chilima stressed that people should exercise their right to demonstrate and not fear anything as the National Anthem states.
“Let us demonstrate peacefully without fear,” said Chilima, who was dressed in black combat regalia while his wife, Mary, was clad in a black T-shirt inscribed Osaopa (No Fear).
Added Chilima: “We are not going to relent. We are going to fight until we see where the vote of Malawians went.”
Chakwera, who finished second as per results announced by MEC, also said he will not let justice on the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections be concealed.
HRDC first organized the demonstrations on June 20, 2019 calling for Ansah to resign who vehemently refused to resign in an exclusive television interview with Zodiak TV a week ago.
The CSOs then organized another set of demonstrations and vigils on Thursday and Friday across the country to force Ansah to resign over the way she handled the May 21 tripartite elections.
Voting in the tripartite elections took place on May 21 in 5 002 polling stations nationwide and DPP President Peter Mutharika was declared a winner seven days after the voting, securing his second five-year term.
The results have, however, been challenged by Mutharika’s main contenders, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party, who have called for the nullification of the presidential poll, arguing some anomalies were overlooked.
The two parties have both filed their cases at the High Court in Lilongwe whose hearing starts on July 29.
The polarised electorate has led Mutharika—who won the presidency with 38.5 percent of the vote—to face questions of legitimacy not just from his challengers, but also from influential groups such as the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) who say he has carried the day in an election that lacked credibility.
PAC has also endorsed the demonstrations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :