Malawi is facing renewed street demonstrations with main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) set to unleash its supporters back to the streets to protest against President Peter Mutharika’s claims that some politicians are trying to recruit mercenary militias from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to create anarchy in the country.
MCP leader Lazarus Chkwera asked Mutharika on Saturday to produce evidence within 24 hours, to substantiate his claims.
President Mutharika made the allegation in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in the National Assembly on Friday, that some politicians had conspired to bomb Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on May 28 when he was being sworn in following the contested May 21 presidential elections.
Mutharika did not mention names in his Parliament’s address but said he knows the “two political leaders” who have tried to recruit mercenary militias “from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to come and create anarchy in this country.”
However, Chakwera said Mutharika should substantiate his allegations warning that,” if Mr. Mutharika does not publicly produce evidence of this within 24 hours, then Malawians will know that this is just another one of his tippex lies.”
Chakwera is said to organise his party supporters to get back on the streets and protests the remarks by Mutharika.
“Whatever the case, his remarks only show how unfit he is for the presidency and how detached he is from reality. As a case in point, he even claimed, with no sense of irony, that if citizens continue to protest, they will one day find themselves being ruled by evil,” said Chakwera.
Meanwhile, Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), has also organised further demonstrations calling for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Asah and other commissioners to resign and pave the way for investigations into, among others, identifying and prosecuting those who supplied Tippex to be used for ‘doctoring’ election figures.
HRDC announced the development during a post-June 20 demonstrations news conference held at the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) office in Lilongwe.
Gift Trapence, the HRDC vice-chairperson, said the group expected Ansah to resign by Friday, but she did not hence they will launch a campaign of civil disobedience.
“We think they are taking Malawians for a joke, so we will hold demonstrations on 4th and 5th July in form of vigils in 10 selected districts.
“After these vigils, if there will be no action, we will hold other vigils from 8th to 12th July, but this time in all the districts and we will continue until Ansah resigns,” said Trapence.
Opposition leaders Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima, who finished second and third in the election, respectively, who are both challenging the election results in court, alleging irregularities said they will engage “gear two” if Ansah refuses to abdicate from the commission.
The UTM leader said Malawians should not be afraid as they are expressing their right to demonstrate.
The election was marred by allegations of fraud, including that many results sheets were altered using white correction fluid called Tippex.
Malawian political scientist Michael Jana, who teaches at the University of Witwatersrand, said: “A significant section of Malawi society is disgruntled and does not want the current government. It’s a divided country.”
The opposition have promised to keep the demonstrations peaceful, but tensions are running high and some fear the protests could spark civil unrest.
Meanwhile, police officers are said to be asking for authorities to ensure that they are well equipped to contain the people’s protests.
Nyasa Times understands police are having a shortage of weapons which include rubber bullets, protective gear and tear gas canisters.
During the June 20 protests, some people in Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre took the law into their own hands, stoning buildings and cars, and burning billboards and flags.
Some yobs went berserk, looting shops, breaking shop windows, burning tyres and flags of President Peter Mutharika as well as manhandling some police officers.
Property worth millions of kwacha was lost and police have said they are still assessing the damages to ascertain how much was lost, but have already arrested a few people in Mzuzu.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :