11 October 2017

Malawi: Violence Rocks Nsanje Lalanje By-Election - DPP Hits At MCP

Violence has rocked Nsanje Lalanje ahead of the October 17 by-election as members of opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) say they have been attacked by followers of ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Gladys Ganda at Phokera on Wednesday.

Seventeen people say they were attacked by known DPP Youth Cadets. Those who spoke to Nyasa Times said the DPP youth militia went door-to-door in Phokera attacking supporters of MCP candidate Lawrence Sitolo and their families.

MCP regional chairman for the south Peter Simbi said he has received fresh reports of voter intimidation through violence.

"MCP supporters are being attacked by DPP cadres. This is not democracy," Simbi said.

Simbi said the attacks were well planned. But DPP regional governor for south Charles Mchacha, denied his party was attacking opponents.

Police officers in the district said they are investigating the matter.

The political environment in Nsanje Lalanje constituency is relatively tense with numerous reports of political intolerance and violence in the build-up to the by-election.

Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) executive secretary David Nungu said trend of events on political violence ahead of the by-elections give a worrying indication of what the road to 2019 may look like.

He said the commission will conduct a fact-finding mission on incidences of political violence to establish the cause and recommend solutions.

The influential Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), a grouping of Catholic bishops in the country, condemned politically-motivated violence.

Germany, one of the country's development partners, also cautioned that the acts have the potential to ruin Malawi's image as a peace loving nation.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will hold by-elections in Lilongwe Msozi North, Lilongwe South East and NsanjeLalanje constituencies and in three local government wards of Mayani North in Dedza North Constituency, Mtsiriza Ward in Lilongwe City West Constituency and NdirandeMakata Ward in Blantyre Malabada Constituency.

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