Police have said they blocked acting President of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Professor Peter Mutharika, from conducting his whistle stop rallies on Wednesday because they were illegal.
The DPP leader was scheduled to address his supporters at various centres along the M1 Road on his way to Blantyre but police swiftly stopped him from doing so.
The police said they could not allow Mutharika, who is currently answering treason charges, to conduct the rallies because he had no permission to do so.
But Mutharika’s Personal Assistant, Ben Phiri, suspected foul play claiming they got clearance from relevant authorities at both the police and district commissioner’s office to have the whistle stops conducted.
Mutharika was supposed to first address the party followers at Ntcheu Boma then Chingeni followed by Phalula and ending at Lunzu in Blantyre.
Phiri said they were surprised when police told them they had received instructions from above not to allow Mutharika to address his supporters.
“All the permission was given by both the police and the district commissioner unfortunately we were barred from addressing the people. When we reached at Ntcheu Boma we were told that there orders from above not to address the people but we don’t know what orders from above were they talking above,” an angry Phiri said.
But Ntcheu Police Spokesperson Gift Matewere insisted that they had not received any communication from Ntcheu District Commissioner’s office informing them that Mutharika would address a rally in the district.
“As police we don’t have the mandate to authorise or deny anybody from conducting a rally but we just make sure that security is there and we need to be notified within 48 hours.
“For this case, we don’t have any notification at our office. The DC office didn’t notify us that Professor Mutharika would be conducting a rally here,” said Matewere, who refused taking orders from above claiming police do not take orders as their everyday duty is to ensure that security and peace is prevailing.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu, official spokesperson of the government, said DPP did not seek permission and, as such, it was going to be an unlawful gathering.
He said police were unable to plan security measures in the absence of the notice; hence, they stopped the DPP leaders from addressing the party followers.
Meanwhile, unlike last week when tens of hundreds of DPP supporters went on violent protests following the arrests of their top leaders on treason charges, on Wednesday hundreds of them who gathered along the M1 Road remained calm despite the sad story.
In Blantyre, business nearly came to a standstill around the Central Business District when DPP supporters, packed to the capacity in a lorry, went around chanting songs of praises for Mutharika while demonizing the Joyce Banda administration.
Mutharika, alongside eight other top DPP officials and three government officials including then a minister were arrested last week and charged with treason before their release on court bail after spending three nights in police custody.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :