Malawi: State House Vigils Blocked - Persons With Albinism Told Its 'Restricted Area' for Vigils

Police block APAM demonstrators from reaching State House.

Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) who were planning to be marching to Kamuzu Palace and hold vigils from March 6 to 8 2019, have been told by Lilongwe City Council (LCC) that they have no permission to proceed instead they can present their petition to President Mutharika at the Civic Offices.

The city council communicated this stand on Monday during a meeting in Lilongwe to discuss the route and venue for the vigils.

Apam was told that Section 103 of the Police Act (2010) provides restrictions on demonstrations or assemblies within State House premises.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo, who led a team of seven people from Apam and other civil society organisations (CSOs) to the meeting, said they received a letter signed by city council chief executive officer Gensher M'bwabwa dated February 28 advising them about the decision not to hold vigils at State House.

The city council granted Apam permission to hold "peaceful march and vigil" on conditions that they go to Civic Offices to deliver their petition and not head to Kamuzu Palace.

However, the meeting ended ind deadlock as Apam could not accept the order to block them from heading to Kamuzu Palace.

Meanwhile, President Mutharika will not be in Lilongwe when Apam will be holding the vigils as instead be in the Northern Region, where he is expected to carry out a number of tasks, starting on Tuesday, March 5 2019 when he will commission the Mzimba Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation Project.

Kalirani old a local radio that Mutharika invited Apam officials to a round table discussion few days ago but the association turned down the invitation insisting they will deliver the petition to the President in person in the process of holding a vigil at State House.

Just last week, Mutharika held talks with a parallel group calling itself Poor and Concerned People with Albinism (PACPWA) at the State House who delivered almost similar grievances Apam is advancing.

Among other issues, Aoam wants government to provide enough funding towards the National Action Plan to end the escallating killing and abduction of people with albinism.

Mutharika ordered Treasury for an immediate release of the required K3.1 Billion after meeting PACPWA officials.

Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Apam.

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