Inspector General of Malawi police Rodney Jose has told Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to suspend demonstrations pushing for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansa, saying both the police and organisers have failed to protect lives and property of people when the protests turn violent.
In a letter dated July 26, 2019 to HRDC, Jose also says the rights activists have as well failed to hold peaceful demonstrations.
“In view of the above, the Malawi Police Service, in exercise of its powers under section 105(1) of the police Act, demands that HRDC should forthwith stop convening demonstrations until such a time when it would be possible to convene and hold demonstrations.
“You are also required to convey this demand to members of the HRDC at all levels,” says Jose in the letter seen by Nyasa Times
The letter says the HRDC sanctioned protests have been convened as peaceful; however, in all cases, Jose says, they have turned to be violent and have resulted injury to persons, extensive damage to property and looting.
“As you are aware, police officers have been attacked during these demonstrations making it extremely difficult for them to provide security to persons and property,” says the letter in part.
The police chief says the situation has been deteriorating with each new demonstration that HRDC convenes.
“It is thus evident that your organization is no longer able to convene peaceful demonstrations. On our part, we are unable to provide adequate protection for the people participating in these demonstrations and those affected by the same due to, among others, the hostile attitude of demonstrators towards police officers and criminal elements that have hijacked the said demonstrations,” says Jose in the letter addressed to HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo.
HRDC is yet to respond to the letter but the Republican Constitution provides right to peaceful protests and mandates the police to provide security for lives of people and their property.
Mtmabo said if Ansah, who is accused of presiding over a flawed electoral process in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, did not resign, they will take to the streets again next week.
But Thursday’s demonstrations were marred by violence prompting Minister of Information Mark Botoman to issue a statement to condemn the violence and “thuggery” that have manifested yet again during the protests
“Government sympathizes with the innocent and unsuspecting Malawians who are being used as weapons for destroying this country to fulfill political ambitions of a few.
“The targeting of innocent citizens and property, wherever this has taken place, has, again, been well recorded and, as we said before, those occasioning these demonstrations will be held responsible,” said Botomani in a statement.
Meanwhile, the ministry of home affairs has asked those who have suffered injuries or property damage in the demonstrations, to report to the ministry to help them file a lawsuit against organizers of the demonstrations.
But protest organizers say should Ansah refuse to resign, they will intensify the protests to twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, until she steps down or is sacked by President Mutharika.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :