More violence in Malawi's post-election protests

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-26 06:16:15|Editor: Wu Qin
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Malawi Defense Force soldiers block a road in Blantyre, Malawi, on July 25, 2019. Post-election protests continued in Malawi on Thursday with an aim to force the country's electoral body chairperson Jane Ansah to resign. (Photo by Kenneth Jali/Xinhua)

LILONGWE, July 25 (Xinhua) -- More public and private buildings and property have been destroyed in Malawi's cities of Mzuzu and Lilongwe following the post-election protests that continued Thursday in the country's four cities and other parts.

The protests which are led by the country's Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) are aimed at forcing the country's electoral body chairperson, Jane Ansah, to resign.

HRDC and opposition in Malawi are accusing Ansah of mismanaging the May 21 presidential election results in which the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson declared Peter Mutharika winner.

Since Mutharika took oath of office on May 27, the HRDC in collaboration with the opposition has been leading Malawians to protests to force the MEC Chair to step down.

The Thursday protests went on peacefully in the cities of Blantyre, Zomba and other districts across the country but in the capital city, Lilongwe and up north in Mzuzu there were incidences of violence.

In Lilongwe, the protesters broke and torched part of government office complex for the Ministry of Information Communications and Technology and they also stoned and broke the offices of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) head office.

The protesters, who were determined to present their petition to President Mutharika at the state house, Kamuzu Palace, were blocked by the police and the Malawi Defense Force near the Chinese Embassy which is along the road to the palace.

"The protestors were told that they could not go past the Chinese embassy because it is a protected area but after lengthy consultations between the MDF, Police and the HRDC leaders, the protesters were allowed to continue with their march to the state house," local radio, Times, reported.

However, the protesters were later barred again with armed forces 800m away from the main entrance to Kamuzu Palace where Mutharika's adviser on NGOs, Mavuto Bamusi, received the protesters' petition on behalf of Mutharika.

Bamusi assured the protesters that Mutharika would respond to the petition "soon."

"I assure you that I'm going to present the petition to the appointing authority and you are going to get a response soon because right now there's a meeting going on at the palace on the same," said Mutharika's aide.

But the HRDC Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, told Bamusi that it was "just a matter of time before the Malawians demanding justice will no longer hold it."

In Mzuzu, the protesters burned down government offices, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) offices and a police unit while in the border district of Karonga the protesters blocked the road to neighboring Tanzania and no vehicle could pass through.

Following the damaging of the JICA offices, the Japanese Embassy in Malawi has since expressed concern over the development saying JICA is only in Malawi for good will to promote the Japan-Malawi partnership and nothing else.

"The embassy, therefore, wishes to urge the government of the Republic of Malawi and the general public to ensure security of all Japanese people living in Malawi especially those that have committed themselves to working for enhanced and vibrant relations between our two countries," read the statement released by the Japanese embassy in Malawi Thursday.

Meanwhile, the HRDC has declared Tuesdays and Thursdays as anti-Ansah national mass demonstrations days until the MEC chairperson resigns.