Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has confirmed that some of its soldiers were attacked by some protesters who were holding a vigil at Karonga Roundabout, when they tried to help motorists who were barred from using the M1 to access the road and reach Songwe Border.
One of the MDF soldiers attacked by protesters One of the MDF soldiers attacked by protesters MDF soldiers who suffered injuries after running battles with protesters MDF soldiers who suffered injuries after running battles with protesters
The vigil was being held against Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah called by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
MDF soldiers had been providing security after the police were chased.
However, some radical protesters who were blocking access to M1 clashed with MDF soldiers.
The situation turned volatile, with protesters and MDF soldiers engaging in running battles as the security agency tried to open the M1.
Dozens of soldiers were attacked in the process and suffered variable injuries.
Army Commander General Vincent Nundwe confirmed soldiers were attacked in Karonga by civilians.
Nundwe warned protest leaders against any provocation of the officers from the barracks when they come in to maintain security in the country.
He said the Constitution in Section 160 gives the MDF the mandate to provide expertise towards the maintenance of law and order over and above the other roles of defending the sovereignty of the country and the protection of its citizens against armed insurrection.
Army chief said the MDF has acted as back up in shoring up security where police officers were overstretched.
The protesters have often cheered on MDF and heralded the soldiers as heroes whenever they appear at volatile scenes.
However, with the situation in Karonga, the relationship between officers in uniform and civilians during demonstration is likely to be affected.
HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said the demonstration grouping had cancelled the protests on Thursday and Friday in all cities to allow HRDC leadership meet its legal team in Blantyre to strategise on challenging the injunction that was is restraining the coalition from holding protests in airports and borders.