Law enforcers and government spokesperson say they suspect Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) members are behind petrol-bomb attacks on its chairperson Timothy Mtambo and some activits as self-service evidence of persecution for an asylum claim abroad.
This comes after an alleged foiled grenade attack on a vehicle belonging to HRDC Vice-Chairperson Gift Trapence that nearly spoiled key discussions between Attorney General’s team and HRDC members on how to manage future anti-Jane Ansha demonstrations.
Mtambo said government was behind the failed bombing attempt, saying the bomber who fled attempted to attack HRDC vehicle in the presence of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations and Administration) John Nyondo, as well as many other police officers.
He said the activists are “not safe” in Malawi even with police officers who are supposed to protect them as they shield rough neck.
The suspected bomber was reportedly chased and he ran towards Civo Stadium premises.
But Police has dismissed grenade attempt on Mtambo or any HRDC member to the negotiations with the Attorney General as “a shameless hoax.”
Nyondo told Nyasa Times that the meeting was taking place at Crossroads Hotel where there is a very secure car park.
“There were drivers for several government officials right at the car park and no one witnessed any incident of the sort being described. And it does not need any intelligence one to realize that it is highly unlikely that if anybody intended any attack in a public place, the weapon should have been concealed and not exposed way before the attack,” he said.
Nyondo said police will investigate the matter.
Another security expert also dismissed the narrative of planting a grenade.
“Is it not common knowledge that hand grenades are thrown and not planted?”
Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani said it is not true that government might have been involved in the attempted bombing.
“We are categorically refuting the allegation made by HRDC, government has initiated the dialogue and there is no way it can plan the bombing,” said Botomani.
Botomani, who is also government spokesman, said they wanted to make progress in the dialogue within the stipulated 14-day period by the court.
However, Botomani said the HRDC are possibly trying to find an excuse for not attending the court sanctioned meetings so that they do not bear any responsibility for security during demonstrations.
Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on Tuesday evening gave a 14-day moratorium that the two parties must hold negotiations on how HRDC can exercise the constitutional right to demonstrate without violence and crime.
Justice Lovemore Chikopa said time should be given within which the parties can negotiate while respecting the suspension. He also said that care should be taken so that the moratorium does not turn into a backdoor ban.
Chikopa has since said that to give negotiations the best chance of success, there is a need for both parties to ensure that senior members attend, to make decisions there and then. He has also warned against prejudice during the proceedings.
President Peter Mutharika, whose electoral victory was challenged in the country’s high court, has threatened the use of force to shut down HRDC protests as his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) claims that HRDC is trying to overthrow the government.
Mutharika has accused his challengers, Saulos Chilima of UTM Party and Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), of manipulating national stability through the HRDC.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :