Sixteen supporters of Malawi’s ruling People’s Party (PP) are nursing wounds reportedly sustained after being stoned as they travelled to Thyolo North Constituency where President Joyce Banda addressed a rally on Tuesday.

PP and police confirmed the incident.

The ruling party has meanwhile blamed the incident on sympathisers of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

But DPP has distanced itself from the incident, saying it neither condones nor subscribes to violence.

Photographs seen by The Nation show stones placed across the Tarmac road where miniature DPP flags were erected.

PP publicity secretary Hophmally Makande claimed the 16 suffered deep cuts and bruises.

“They [DPP] were not happy that we invaded their territory. They stoned our supporters. They blocked roads. It is uncalled for and we will not accept that nonsense,” said Makande.

He said the matter was reported to police.

Southern Region Police Headquarters spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa confirmed the incident, saying police are investigating the matter. But he said no arrests have been made yet.

Gondwa also alleged PP supporters were stoned as they left a place where the road was barricaded at Chipendo Trading Centre on the way to Goliati, the home of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika in Thyolo East Constituency which neighbours Thyolo North Constituency.

But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said his party is not in any way involved in the incident.

“I am hearing it from you. But DPP does not condone or subscribe to violence,” said Dausi.

In 2009, at the height of the general elections campaign, United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters were also stoned in the same area.

Meanwhile, the President has elevated Traditional Authority (T/A) Chimaliro of Thyolo to Senior Chief with effect from Tuesday.

The President made the announcement at Kalimbuka Primary School where she also distributed maize flour to vulnerable households suffering from shocks of dry spells during the last farming season.

Chimaliro’s elevation contradicts a recent recommendation from the Law Commission on the Review of the Chiefs’ Act that said the President should not be appointing chiefs as a way of enhancing neutrality. The commission recommended that traditional leaders within a particular district should choose among themselves the most senior leaders to be senior chief.

Banda said she felt compelled to elevate T/A Chimaliro because he is fit to carry out the duties.

On the food distribution, the President said she will continue with the exercise until next February.

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