Malawi: Violent, Looting Demonstrations Condemned - Malawi At Standstill Over Elections Dispute

MCP supporters march to Capital Hill in protest against poll results.

The violent acts that have been taking place since the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced that Peter Mutharika won the May 21 presidential race have been condemned as two-day peaceful demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign turned ugly Thursday.

Chakwera, Chilima and Mary Chilima during the march.- Photo by Govati Nyirenda, Mana Kids join the demonstrations. Photo by Govati Nyirenda, Mana

Demonstrate peacefully, screamed a headline of the editorial comment on Friday by The Nation newspaper, the leading daily.

The paper was commenting on reported violence, looting and arson following the demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).

In the capital Lilongwe, group of youths suspected to have been among the protesters looted a Spar supermarket and an electronics shop at City Centre after the marchers had dispersed.

In Blantyre, the suspected ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets attacked Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Southern Region offices at Chichiri.

The offices were vandalised, glasses were broken and a security guard identified as Lungu was assaulted.

In Mzuzu, some of the protesters were breaking offices, including those of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom). Commercial banks located along Mzuzu's dual-carriageway Orton Chirwa Highway were not spared as NBS Bank, Standard Bank, Nedbank and First Capital Bank branches were affected.

The demonstrators also demolished perimeter fences for some buildings, smashed vehicles and shops, including Airtel Malawi and TNM plc kiosks.

"As Malawi moves towards the climax of its55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations on July 6, it is disheartening and shocking that people are this angry and destructive," reads the comment in part.

The daily pointed out that violence scares away investors.

"The government is already struggling to finance the budget; hence, needless destruction of infrastructure should be avoided at all cost to ensure that the little resources available are channelled to essential and critical sectors such as health service delivery, agriculture and education," it reads.

The paper said with a case seeking nullification of presidential elections in court, the concerned stakeholders should give justice a chance by "letting the courts define the course of justice."

The Catholic bishops, under the Episcopal Conference on Malawi (ECM), state in a statement, that they condemn the violence in strongest terms.

"We denounce the vice perpetrated on innocent people and their property based on political, regional and tribal lines. Violence is evil and unacceptable. It is contrary to the freedom we fought for when we chose multiparty system of government," the statement reads, in part.

While acknowledging the right of Malawians to hold peaceful demonstrations as provided in the Constitution, the bishops call on citizens to maintain peace, calm and unity as the nation waits for the court's determination on the matter.

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