19 June 2019

Malawi: Court Allows June 20 Blantyre Demos - Malawi Police Warn Against Violence

Photo: Nyasa Times
MCP Vice President Sidik Mia and his wife Abida leading a march (file photo)

The High Court in Blantyre on Tuesday evening gave civil society organisations under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) the go ahead to protest in the streets of Blantyre City against the outcome of the May 21 2019 presidential polls.

CSOs finally get nod to hold peaceful protests in Blantyre city

HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo has confirmed that the court has finally given the coalition the go ahead after initial refusal by Blantyre City Council officials.

"The demos are on this Thursday and we urge everyone wishing to participate to come forward," said Mtambo.

Blantyre city council chief executive officer Dr. Alfred Chanza refused HRDC permission to hold the protests, saying the streets and townships of Blantyre had been duly booked for public events by other stakeholders from June 18 to 24.

But lawyers say the law does not give powers to councils or police to refuse permission for protests but rather protesters simply inform the law enforcers and the council of their intent to hold peaceful demonstrations.

In Mzuzu, the CCAP Lvingstonia synod has endorsed the Thursday countrywide protests.

The deputy secretary general of the church Joseph Mwale said the church would have preferred dialogue to protests.

"But this is the will of the people to go on the streets. We cannot stand on the way of the will of the people," said Mwale.

The Mzuzu city council has since given the HRDC the go ahead to protest but urged protesters to keep peace since some students are sitting for their Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE).

The CSOs are set to hold demonstrations to among other things demand the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and her commissioners for allegedly compromising the electoral process.

Public Affairs Committee (PAC), an inter-faith human rights and policy watchdog, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party have since endorsed the HRDC demonstrations.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has planned what its regional governor (South) Charles Mchacha dubbed Victory Parades in Blantyre while the CSOs will be on the streets.

But the party has no plans for similar parades in the Northern, Central and Eastern regions.

Meanwhile, Malawi Police has issued a strong warning against those who will take advantage of the demonstrations to invoke violence.

National Police Spokesperson, James Kadadzera called for peace, saying the police will apprehend anyone who will try to initiate violence during the protests.

"As Police, we will tighten the security across the country. We advise all Malawians to avoid taking adavantage of the demonstrations to violate the law by causing havoc on this day," he said.

He added that like any other day, the general public should go about their daily routines without fear and that parents should not hesitate to send their children to school for Malawi Police will ensure their security as they always do.

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