The country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera were among the estimated 4 000 protesters who yesterday demanded Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.
The march in Lilongwe, organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), started with pomp at Winners’ Chapel Church in Mchesi.
Chilima, who is UTM Party president and alongside Chakwera is challenging the presidential election results in court, was dressed in black combat regalia while his wife, Mary, was clad in a black T-shirt inscribed Osaopa (No Fear). He addressed protesters and led them close to a stretch of land between Parliament Building and Capital Hill where a 24-hour vigil is taking place.
It was a generally peaceful march like the previous one on June 20. But barely 40 minutes after arriving at Parliament Building, the protesters were seen burning tyres and smashing statues erected on the roundabout near Sunbird Capital.
Some of the protesters also vandalised Spar shop at City Centre and stole assorted merchandise, predominantly alcoholic beverages and food items.
Eralier, there was commotion at the starting point as some protesters demanded that Police Mobile Service officers leave the scene. The protesters alleged that the officers use excessive force against marchers.
HRDC national chairperson Timothy Mtambo briefed the police officers about the concern, but the officer who led the team, resisted; arguing that their role was to ensure that there was peace and order as demonstrators exercised their right to march.
Thereafter, they marched peacefully.
Both Chilima and Chakwera said they joined demonstrators as concerned Malawians and not as leaders of their respective political parties. The duo also said they would take part in the overnight vigil.
During the march, the two leaders took turns to address protesters at Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout where workers believed to be from Kamuzu College of Nursing, Kamuzu Central Hospital and Malawi Health Sciences College lined up by the roadside.
They vowed to fight to the end until they see electoral justice prevailing.
Said Chilima: “We are not going to relent. We are going to fight until we see where the vote of Malawians went.”
Chakwera, who finished second as per results announced by MEC, also said he will not let justice on the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections be concealed.
At Parliament Building where on June 20 some protesters vandalised a steel gate, there was heavy presence of Malawi Defence Force soldiers with armoured vehicles.
Legislators left Parliament Building through the ministerial lounge via the rear gate after the House adjourned at around 5pm.
During a spotcheck around 6pm, there was no sign that the demonstrators would leave the vigil site. But there was calm, peace and order unlike during the day when ugly scenes were spotted.