Acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa yesterday made an eleventh-hour U-turn and cancelled a planned meeting with Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders to discuss a wide range of issues.
HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said in an interview that Mwapasa invited them to a meeting scheduled to take place at Riverside Hotel in Lilongwe yesterday, but cancelled it at the eleventh hour.
In a separate interview yesterday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the cancellation, saying the acting IG needed to attend to other pressing issues.
He said: “The meeting was supposed to take place, but it was cancelled because of other engagements.”
But Trapence expressed shock at the last minute cancellation. He said they were ready to discuss many issues which they previously raised against police and hoped the meeting would address the same.
He warned that HRDC will not take Mwapasa seriously if he invited them for another meeting in future.
Said Trapence: “As HRDC, we were committed to the meeting. At least he should have delegated someone if some pressing issues came along. We will be hesitant if he invites us again.”
Mwapasa invited HRDC leaders two days after the coalition’s national chairperson Timothy Mtambo wrote him about alleged death threats he was receiving from unknown people.
The meeting was expected to take place amid calls from HRDC that Mwapasa should arrest police officers who allegedly raped women in M’bwatalika and Mpingu in an operation that followed the killing of their colleague, Superintendent Usuman Imedi, by an irate mob.
Trapence said HRDC expected the two sides to discuss the rape allegations and other critical issues such as freedom of assembly for people and security issue.
HRDC earlier threatened to hold demonstrations and petition the if the IG did not act on a five-day ultimatum they issued for him to arrest those suspected to have sexually abused women in October this year.