Opposition leaders have vowed to launch a campaign of civil disobedience if chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Jane Ansah, refuse to resign.
Opposition leaders Lazarus Chakwera and 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.
Chilima who together with Chakwera and former Chief Justice Richard Banda, the husband of former President Joyce Banda, joined protests in the capital Lilongwe, said the Thursday protests were “warm-ups”, and that they will seek so to ratchet up pressure on Ansah by announcing a disobedience campaign .
The UTM leader said Malawians should not be afraid as they are expressing their right to demonstrate.
“This is about Malawi, I am a Malawian, Dr Chakwera here is a Malawian, we have joined fellow Malawians that are not happy with how the recent elections were conducted, we demand Justice,” Chilima said.
On his part Chakwera said: “Malawians are very angry with the manner in which the management of the election results were conducted and we want everyone involved in the injustice to resign and get out.”
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.
The recent protests by opposition has put the country to standstill and despite claims of being peaceful, they have largely been overtaken by some yobs to cause violence and looting of shops.
Police said shops had been ransacked and two police officers injured by protesters throwing rocks in Lilongwe.
“We continue to deploy police officers both on foot and vehicle patrols, in all strategic places in towns, cities and rural areas,” police said in a statement.
President Peter Mutharika in his speech at parliament on Friday made assertions that two young people have been killed in the post-election violence.
A police statement seen by Nyasa Times, noted “sporadic incidences of violence” but did not mention arrests.
On Wednesday, protesters in Lilongwe scuffled with police as they blocked the road the 78-year-old Mutharika was meant to travel to enter the capital from the southern region, forcing his motorcade to use a different route.
The President in response to the weeks of unrest has urged unity and calm while accusing the opposition of “mobilizing illegal demonstrations” and trying to cause chaos after the peaceful election.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :