UDF condemns Malawi ‘political policing’

Malawi’s opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has condemned the recent totally unwarranted harassment, intimidation and heavy handed tactics used by the Police against Atupele Muluzi, Machinga North MP and one of the leading presidential hopefuls in the 2014 elections, when he wanted to address a rally in Lilongwe on Sunday.

Police fired tear gas to stop Atupele, son of former president Bakili Muluzi, from addressing thousands of supporters.

UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala told a news conference that he organised the  whistle-stop tours in Lilongwe and not Atupele, saying the authorities were informed through letters to the Lilongwe District Council and Lilongwe City Council. Police were also informed.

Mtafu: Intimidation will not work

“Government is using security reasons as a scapegoat in order to make sure that opposition political parties should not address political rallies in the country,” Makwangwala said.

“In as far as we are concerned, [Malawi] government cannot suspend public gatherings like political rallies unless they declare a state of emergency,” said Makwangwala.

The UDF secretary general said the Malawi Constitution on  Section 40 “is very clear on our rights to campaign for a political party cause and to participate in peaceful political activities.”

He condemned the Police action to fire a volley of tear gas canisters to the podium where Atupele was about to address the rally, calling it “unprofessional, barbaric and not befitting a police service in a democratic country like Malawi.”

Angry residents torched the police unit at Area 24, a police vehicle and house belonging to one of the officers were torched.

Police on Tuesday arrested Atupele to quiz him on the clashes between his supporters and police.

Meanwhile,  UDF treasure General Dr George nga Mtafu said he is not afraid of being arrested.

“ This type of intimidation didn’t work in the past and it certainly isn’t going to work now,” said Mtafu.

Mtafu added that the party has information from police sources that Police wants to arrest him and UDF campaign director, trade unionist, Austin Kalimanjira  on instructions of Mutharika government to instil fear on UDF as it is “a party on the move.”

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