Malawi post-election protests turn violent

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-06 17:00:47|Editor: Yurou
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LILONGWE, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Nationwide protests against the disputed election results in Malawi on Thursday and Friday turned ugly in several cities where protesters burned government offices and looted shops.

In Mzuzu, capital of Malawi's Northern Region, protesters broke and looted shops, burned government treasury offices and agriculture offices as well as a house and two vehicles belonging to former Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia, also a member of Malawi President Peter Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Further up north in Karonga, a township in Northern Region, protesters burned the District Commissioner's office complex and looted the cash office.

In the capital, Lilongwe, protests on Thursday were joined by opposition leaders, Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Saulos Chilima of the United Transformation Movement (UTM).

Protesters camped at the mausoleum of the country's founding leader, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, near the Parliament Building in the city center, where they spent the night till Friday.

The protests were organized by the Malawi's Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to force Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Jane Ansah to resign allegedly for mismanaging the May 21 election results which saw Mutharika re-elected.

Since the results were announced on May 27, the HRDC and the opposition have been organizing protests in cities demanding the resignation of Ansah.

"We want Jane Ansah to resign; if she doesn't, we will continue with a series of demonstrations across the country until she resigns," Chairperson for the HRDC Timothy Mtambo told local journalists Friday at the camp in the capital.

Mtambo distanced his organization from any looting or burning of public offices, saying the protests were "peaceful" and that "those inciting violence were not part of the demonstrations."

Malawi government spokesperson Mark Botoman, however, on Friday told local media that "it is very clear that the looting and destruction of public property is part of the demonstrations and we are going to investigate and bring the perpetrators to book."

Meanwhile, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Defense Force (MDF) jointly patrolled cities, calming the situation.

MPS Inspector-General Rodney Jose appealed in a press statement on Friday to "all those who continue breaking the law in the name of demonstrations to desist from such acts since the long arm of law will take its course."

Ansah told a local broadcaster recently that she would resign only if the country's constitutional court orders that the electoral process had irregularities.