Police have stopped DPP interim President Peter Mutharika from holding whistle-stop rallies scheduled for today (Monday) from Lilongwe to Kasungu, apparently because they have collided with the arrival of President Joyce Banda from the US through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA).
The order comes two weeks after police again stopped Mutharika’s whistle-stop tour from Lilongwe to Blantyre soon after he was granted bail in his alleged treason case.
The DPP had initially planned to have the whistle-stop tour from Lumbadzi through Mponela in Dowa then Ntchisi and winding up in Mthunthama, Kasungu. However, the police had given them the go-ahead for all the venues, except Lumbadzi.
“We got a verbal reply to go ahead but not in Lumbadzi because they said the President will be arriving the same day and also that in Mponela we should not use the road but identify a ground. As a peace-loving party we agreed with that arrangement,” said DPP second vice-president Jean Kalilani.
She, however, said she personally got another message on Sunday morning from the district commissioner in Dowa and Mponela Police instructing that the Inspector General of Police has ordered that all the meetings should not go ahead.
“This was also verbal and we were told that we can have the tours on any other day. They said, their fear is that there will be two rival groups of supporters with a likelihood of clashes,” said Kalilani.
She added: “I asked them to put that in writing but they said there will be no problems since we already have the earlier permission. We have, therefore, decided to go ahead with the whistle-stop tour on Tuesday because we did not want to bring ourselves into conflict with them but now the tour will include Lumbadzi.”
Apart from the stopped Lilongwe-Blantyre whistle stop-tour, Mutharika was also a week ago stopped from having a rally in Zomba.
Police national spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo confirmed the order, but could not say whether the arrival of the President is the one that has prompted the directive.
“Based on security analysis they have been advised that they cannot hold the tour tomorrow but they can have it any other day,” she said.