The country’s estranged Vice-President and Tonse Alliance running mate Saulos Chilima has asked supporters of the nine-party grouping to refrain from political violence during the campaign ahead of the fresh presidential election.
In his remarks during separate rallies at Gymkhana ground in Zomba on Saturday and St. Augustine 3 Primary School in Mangochi on Sunday, he said “those sending thugs to cause havoc” should stop.
Chilima appealed to followers of Tonse Alliance to be calm and desist from retaliation.
Said the Vice-President on Sunday: “No matter how much they fight us, no matter how they shoot at us, never fight back in any way.”
Chilima, who is also UTM Party president, said: “I know you are angry because we also know how to pelt stones, some of us even to throw spears, but let’s not fight back. Our votes on 23 June should be our biggest stones. Let us turn out in large numbers and vote.”
He said he did not proceed with his planned whistle-stop rallies in Machinga on Friday after some people blocked the road with logs and poles as well as burning tyres at Nselema trading centre “not because of fear, but because we had heard that some thugs were stoning each passing vehicle and some people got injured.”
Chilima added that he never reached the scene of the violence.
The Vice-President’s motorcade has on two separate occasions either been blocked or pelted with stones by alleged Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters.
However, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, has on both occasions distanced the party, which has gone into an alliance with the UDF, from the acts of violence.
In her earlier address, UTM Party secretary general Patricia Kaliati also condemned political violence, saying it is sad that some leaders are in the forefront perpetuating it.
Said Kaliati: “The clergy must pray for Malawians, mainly those that are being used by politicians in order to perpetuate violence. This is really sad for the country.”
On Friday, Chilima was forced to call off his whistle-stop tours in Machinga after alleged DPP and UDF functionaries blocked at Nselema with logs while hurling insults and burning tyres to foil his motorcade from passing.the Bakili Muluzi Highway
About a week ago, part of Chilima’s motorcade was also pelted with stones in Phalombe during whistle-stop tours he was conducting in the district and Phalombe.
But in an interview with Weekend Nation, Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) director Kizito Tenthani said political leaders must be exemplary by encouraging peaceful coexistence.
Said Tenthani: “If political leaders were willing [to end violence] these violent acts could have ended; unfortunately, they are not. For instance, if the President ordered the police to produce a report on all perpetrators of violence within a day, people will certainly see change.”