Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Peter Mutharika had reportedly suffered a health setback following Police in Lilongwe on Monday fired tear gas canisters at his supporters when he appeared at police station for reporting on his bail conditions on treason charges.
Reports indicate there was confusion when Mutharika appeared at the police station after the perjury case was adjourned at Lilongwe Magistrate Court as hundreds of his supporters joined him to offer their solidarity.
Police fired teargas resulting in people scurrying for cover.
“Professor Peter Mutharika had suffered from the tear gas which police fired at him,” said DPP spokesman Nicholous Dausi.
He accused Police of being used as an instrument of political harassment.
“This is a deliberate attempt by the police to harass and decimate the DPP,” Dausi said.
He said Police need to be accountable to court on where they are getting “instructions” to harass DPP members.
“Police are now the source of instability, of undermining peace. How can police behave in a manner which is so blatantly partisan?” said Dausi.
Dausi said attempts by the People’s Party government to silence the opposition will not yield any positive results adding that Malawians need the opposition to provide checks and balances on government’s actions.
But Malawi’s flagship daily newspaper, The Nation recently reminded DPP that when it was a ruling party and commanded a majority in Parliament, they were busy changing or twisting some laws, including those related to freedom of assembly and expression.
The paper pointed out that on the freedom of assembly, which simply required those seeking to hold meetings to notify a district commissioner (DC), DPP argued that those intending to hold meetings required not only to notify the DC’s office, but also to seek permission.
Some planned political meetings by opposition parties then, were forcefully broken up on that basis whereas DPP moved on with its meetings freely.
The late Bingu wa Mutharika went as far as ordering that people seeking permission to demonstrate should deposit K2 million (about $5 555) to cover for any possible damage to property. It was never effected.
On the freedom of expression, DPP, using its majority in Parliament, amended Section 46 of the Penal Code, effectively empowering a Minister of Information to ban a publication, local or international, if in the minister’s opinion such publications were not in the interest of the public. Media houses risked simply being shut down based on this draconian law which the Joyce Banda administration has since repealed.
Newspaper vendors also claimed that DPP operatives harassed them when selling newspapers that were deemed offensive to the regime.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :