UDF’s Atupele supporters arrested in Police crackdown

Atupele Muluzi at women protests over stripping

Malawi Government’s crackdown on opposition parties’ followers continued on Sunday afternoon with the arrest of two United Democratic Front (UDF) members in Balaka district.

The two opposition party followers have been identified as John Ajida and Owen Nyoni, according to Balaka Police spokesperson Titani Chadwala.

The police spokespersonsaid the two are currently in police custody and were arrested for conducting “a demonstration” without permission from authorities.

However, UDF Balaka Central East Member of Parliament Yaumi Aufi Mpawemi contradicted Chadwala’s claims, saying the two were picked as they innocently sang and danced while waiting for the arrival of Atupele Muluzi, who has expressed interest to seek nomination for 2014 presidential candidature.

The 33-year-old son of Malawi’s former president and retired leader of the party, Dr Bakili Muluzi, was in the district with some followers of a faction he belongs to which mainly consists of members of parliament, conducting a political rally.

“Our members were singing and dancing in anticipation of the arrival of Honourable Atupele Muluzi who was conducting a mass rally there. There was nothing like a demonstration, a demonstration for what,” wondered Mpaweni.

The parliamentarian bemoaned the arrests, claiming government actions were an attempt to harass members of the opposition by dumping them in police cells knowing that they could not be taken to court since the judiciary is on a nationwide strike.

“We know they deliberately want to punish our followers, this is their ploy because they know the suspects cannot be taken to court following the ongoing sit in by the judiciary,” bemoaned Mpaweni.

Crackdown

This is the third time within two weeks police have arrested members of opposition parties without proper justification.

Two weeks ago they arrested five People’s Party (PP) officials on allegations that they assaulted a ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator for Zomba Chisi, Peter Mangulenje.

A few days later they nabbed five more bringing the number to 10 the number of PP officials. Among the arrested officials include the party National Youth Director Lawrence Mpofu, Economic Affairs Deputy Director Peter Bvalani, Jali Sub-District Treasurer Foster Sungani and Zomba Likangala Constituency Governor Elliot Jali.

The officials were charged with three counts of theft, conduct likely to cause breach of peace and assault occasioning bodily harm for allegedly assaulting Mangulenje and robbing him of K70,000 and other personal effects at a funeral in the district.

The bone of contention was that PP supporters, who claimed the deceased was their member, were angered by Mangulenje’s directive that his party take charge of the funeral proceedings.

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