While political tension is still simmering, the African Union, as well as local political experts have said those aggrieved with the May 21 presidential results and government, especially the Malawi Police Service (MPS), are to blame for ongoing violent incidents in the country.
They have since urged government authorities and the aggrieved parties whose supporters are protesting violently to amicably solve the disputes rather than engage in acts that will escalate tension in the country.
Since announcement of presidential results in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader Lazarus Chakwera trailed Peter Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), pockets of violent protests have been witnessed in some parts of the country.
Chakwera declared that he was rejecting the results, and since then, his supporters have been taking to the streets.
Some people have been arrested while others have been injured, allegedly by police, who are said to have been using excessive force in controlling the protesters.
In an interview yesterday, political and administrative studies lecturer at Chancellor College, Mustafa Hussein, while appreciating that MCP was within its rights to use both the courts and protests as means to achieve its goals, condemned the violent conduct of the protesters and response from the police.
“MCP is right to use both the courts and protests, actually protests are a political means of getting results. What must be condemned is the conduct during protests; some people are being militant, they are acting violently, protests must be peaceful,” he said.
Hussein observed that Chakwera has also not been sincere with his supporters, saying, he ought to have been calling for calm always as they go out to protest.
“Political leaders should genuinely ask their followers enforcers,” he said. to be peaceful, so, too, the law
His counterpart, Joseph Chunga said the status quo must be understood as complex, as it emanates from the process that the Malawi Electoral Commission took in the election and how it handled complaints from aggrieved parties.
Like Hussein, Chunga said MCP had all rights to pursue both the legal means by engaging the courts and the political means, by protesting in the streets.
“The trend has been that in Malawi you demonstrate for some hours and then make some ultimatums that are not so serious and then go home. But the trend now had changed, where people want to stay in the streets for more days. It’s their right. We have seen this in the USA, Thailand and many other African countries.
“If you look at previous protests, police would simply escort protesters and then everybody would go home. But what has changed to have this violence? For me I think the political leadership in government could be getting afraid that the protests may be sustained and that would be to their disadvantage.”
He questioned the excessive use of force by police.
Speaking to Nation on Sunday in another interview, presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani maintained that Chakwera is on record that he is ready to shed blood as a call for his party followers to resort to violence, a statement which Chakwera said was quoted out of context.
He also argued that the MCP president allowed his supporters to harass civil servants at Capital Hill, something that shows that the protests had the blessings of Chakwera.
Yesterday, Chakwera maintained his stance during a briefing in Lilongwe by condemning the arrest of “peaceful protesters” and demanded their immediate and unconditional release.
The African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-Saro) on June 6, expressed concerns over the post-election incidents, further condemning the excessive use of force by the Malawi Police Service.
However, the government of Malawi responded with dismay, telling the AU-Saro to follow normal diplomatic channels when engaging it.
It said: “Government will continue to do everything possible to ensure that all citizens and residents of the Republic of Malawi are protected and that peace and order is maintained in the country.”