Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) officials are shocked that police on Saturday tear-gased and dispersed rioting people with albinism who blocked the MI road at MIM on the way to Kamuzu International Airport demanding to see president Peter Mutharika who is on his way from Mzuzu.
This follows an announcement on Friday in parliament by Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Cecelia Chazama tothat her ministry and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) had already hired buses and all logistics done to ferry 150 Apam members to Mzuzu where the President has been carrying out State duties.
But the president of Apam Overstone Kondowe said people with albinism (PWAs) were still camped at Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) in Lilongwe where they were holding a vigil waiting for the President.
“We have not been communicated to on this. Everybody is here at MIM. We are not travelling anywhere,” said Kondowe.
He said no one was told them that they were going to meet Mutharika, saying they learnt from the media.
Meanwhile, Apam members were protesting from MIM and matching to Kamuzu International Airport where they learnt Mutharika will be jetting in on his way to the south to visit flood affected areas declared a disaster zone.
The rioters said they are angered by a decision by Mutharika to cancel the intended meeting in order to hurriedly go to the south to visit victims of heavy rains and floods which has killed 26 people so far.
Kondowe accused the president of favouring one section of society.
“Our issue has been on his table for long. What people with albinism want is to meet him to discuss their protection. This issue of the floods has just come. He should meet us first,” said Kondowe.
The heavily armed police with a riot van battled with the people with albinism who had blocked the road.
The law enforcers detained some Apam members driving them to Kanengo police station, witnesses and colleagues told Nyasa Times.
The road has since been cleared and vehicles are now passing.
Presidential advisor on non-governmental organisations Mavuto Bamusi said it was imperative for Mutharika to attend to an emergency issue in the south.
“The meeting has been called off because the president has to visit the flood victims first but he is very committed to meeting the persons with albinism, he will meet them,” said Bamusi.
According to Kondowe, over 150 people with albinism are ready to petition directly President Mutharika after running battles ensued between police and Apam members who together with Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) officials marched to Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Wednesday but law enforcers blocked them, 100 metres away from holding a vigil.
“What we want is for the President to translate the commitments he made into action. We are ready to travel to Mzuzu and meet the President whether during the night or day,” said Kondowe.
There is a protracted war between people with albinism and the government over Homeland minister Nicholas Dausi remarks that the killings of people with albinism has not reached crisis levels to warrant government declare unsafe for the people with albinism.
The protracted war was heightened when the police tear gased and manhandled the people with albinism as they went to Kamuzu palace in Lilongwe to hold a vigil.
Mutharika has since appointed a commission of inquiry into the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism.
The commission, which started its work on March 5, has eight individuals whose chair is Justice Richard Chinangwa.