Tension grips Mangochi, Malawi


Tension gripped Malawi’s Lakeshore District of Mangochi [over 300 Km from Lilongwe] also opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) stronghold following the heavy increase of presence of policemen in uniform, plain clothes including Malawi Government Security Intelligence Service (SIS) personnel.

The tension mounted ahead of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s visit to the area to lead Malawi in joining the rest of the world in commemorating the World Water Day on Thursday.

“Since Monday this week after police were engaged in battle with UDF supporters in Lilongwe we have been experiencing an increase in the number policemen here,” Mangochi resident Plesley Liwago told Africanews on Wednesday evening ahead of the World Water Day activities.

The matter follows Malawi Police launching an investigation in the fracas that led to the setting on fire of their Police Unit, vandalizing of law enforcers’ houses including beating of some policemen by residents in Area 24 Township in Lilongwe City last Sunday.

“The ugly scenes of violence erupted in Area 24 after police threw away tear gas canisters at UDF supporters including innocent residents in their houses to stop the UDF led by Honorable Austin Atupele Muluzi from holding whistle stops and a political rally in Area 24,” an eyewitness Joab Chinkhandwe told Africanews.

Police investigation in the matter has already led to the arrest of Austin Atupele Muluzi who is Machinga North Member of Parliament (MP) also son to former president Bakili Muluzi.

The former president’s son was after his arrest 6 miles away from Lilongwe City along Lilongwe Blantyre Road briefly kept at Lumbadzi Police Station (near Kamuzu International Airport) before later taken to Lilongwe’s main prison, Maula Prison.

“It’s unfair for other members of the society to claim that Right Honourable [Austin] Atupele Muluzi has been arrested on political motives,” said President Mutharika and ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Heatherwick Ntaba.

“No one is above the law in this country,” said Ntaba adding that Atupele who is aspiring to run as presidential candidate for UDF in 2014 has been arrested and charged of insiting violence that led to the fracas in Area 24.

“As a Member of Parliament Honorable Atupele is supposed to be the first person to respect the rule of law but failed to do so,” said the Presidential and DPP spokesperson adding that had the young Muluzi not provoked the situation by going ahead to hold a rally there would have been no fracas in Area 24.

But Vice President Joyce Banda also People’s Party president who was among the over 500 well wishers including UDF supporters who went to Maula Prison to cheer the young Muluzi differed with Ntaba.

“I will always side with Malawians who after being tired of the former oppressive one party regime voted for multiparty democracy to enjoy their fundamental rights. In fact the truth of the matter is that if the DPP led administration had respect for our young democracy and allowed Honourable Atupele Austin Muluzi to hold the rally the fracas would have not happened,” charged Banda.

She added that the problem with the Mutharika administration was taking Malawians for granted by denying them their fundamental rights.

“People are under the current DPP government being restrained from enjoying their rights. This is not what Malawians had fought for because it is a violation of human rights and undemocratic,” charged Banda.

On his part reacting to his son’s arrest, an interview from South Africa with Malawi’s modern daily newspaper, The Nation, former president Bakili Muluzi said Atupele’s arrest was an attack on his family by the Mutharika administration.

He therefore, said that he was cutting his stay in South Africa where he went to seek medical treatment to see what he can do in Atupele’s arrest.

Meanwhile, tension mounted again in Lilongwe after Atupele Muluzi reportedly suffered from High Blood Pressure following his arrest and transfer from Lumbadzi Police Station to Maula Prison.

Showing support for Atupele over 500 UDF supporters gathered outside SH Private Clinic in Amina House in Lilongwe where the young Muluzi was taken for treatment.

The supporters chanted and blocked the main route nearby (Paul Kagame Road) hence causing traffic jam and over 30 heavily armed police arrived at the scene to control the situation.

Later close to 70 more law enforcers were also deployed on the scene.

And as Africanews went to bed Atupele Muluzi was from taken from SH Private Clinic and admitted at City Centre Clinic in Lilongwe.

This was after police turned down the young Muluzi’s lawyer Jai Banda’s calls for his client to be granted bail saying they cannot set him free at the moment until they have completed their investigations in the matter.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Mangochi World Water Day function which was mainly attended by people driven from some parts of the country as opposed to Mangochi residents, Mutharika challenged those calling for his resignation for his alleged failure to identify solutions to current Malawi’s social-economic problems and practice good governance and respect rule of law that he will not step down until 2014.

“In fact if I wished I would have find ways to run for a third term. But I can’t do that and after 2014 I will pack up and go because the country’s laws don’t allow an incumbent president to run for a third term after serving two five year terms,” said the President amid handclapping from his DPP supporters at the rally.

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