28 more arrested over demos violence

Police have arrested 28 more suspects in connection with the looting, theft and torching of property during the July 4 to 5 protests to demand the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.

The arrest of the 28 brings to 68 the number of suspects, according to a statement signed by Malawi Police Service national spokesperson James Kadadzera.

Kadadzera: We have put in place strategies

He said: “So far, we have arrested 68 suspects strongly connected to the looting and injuring of police officers as follows; in Kamphata [Lilongwe] 16, Lilongwe Old Town [8], Lilongwe City Centre [15], Mzuzu [18] and 11 in Rumphi.

“In Mzuzu, 55 out of 231 bicycles that were stolen from Mzuzu ADD offices have been recovered.

“We have also recovered four computer monitors and two CPUs. The law enforcers are vigilant and alert in making sure that everything is under control, day and night. We have put in place strategies and modalities so that citizens can normally access services at hospitals, schools, shops, and markets.”

Kadadzera has also warned all those creating and spreading scary messages and audio clips on social media propagating hatred and violence that they will be traced and taken to court.

He assured Malawians of safety and security when there are continued incidences of violence and looting in some parts of the country.

During the protests, criminal acts and looting resurfaced in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, Mzuzu, Rumphi and Karonga. Some shops in Lilongwe City Centre were smashed, some roads in town were blocked and tyres burnt; In Mzuzu and Karonga, government offices were burnt and property stolen and some individuals affiliated to the governing Democratic Party (DPP) were also targeted.

HRDC organised the protests to demand Ansah’s resignation for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process.

During the first protests on June 20 2019, 11 people were arrested in Mzuzu and charged with breaking into a building and committing a felony therein as well as malicious damage. The suspects have all denied the charges and pleaded not guilty at the Mzuzu Magistrate’s Court.

Northern Region Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya said that the 11 are currently remanded at Mzuzu Prison and will be back in court on July 9 2019.

HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said they will assess the protests before announcing another step in forcing Ansah out of MEC.

MEC declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winner of the presidential race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections with 1 940 709 votes or 38.57 percent. He was trailed by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes (35.41 percent) while Chilima came third with 1 018 369 votes or 20.24 percent.

Chilima and Chakwera have since filed petitions in court seeking nullification of the results over alleged irregularities. The Constitutional Court is set to start hearing the case on July 29.

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