Lumbadzi Police in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, have charged Atupele Muluzi, son of Malawiâ€™s former president Bakili Muluzi, with inciting violence following his arrest on Tuesday.
Atupeleâ€™s aide Ken Ndanga, who is at Lumbadzi Police Station, said police arrested Atupele at Lilongweâ€™s Bunda Turn off as he was driving to Blantyre.
The Machinga North East MP and one of the leading presidential hopefuls in the 2014 elections is likely to be interrogated over Sundayâ€™s clashes between United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters and police in which a police station, a police vehicle and house belonging to one of the officers were torched in Lilongweâ€™s Area 24.
â€œHe was arrested as we were travelling back to Blantyre…we knew this was going to happen,â€ Ndanga told Nation Online.
Police spokesperson Davie Chingwalu, when asked about the arrest, said he was at home and didnâ€™t know anything about the matter.
Police sources earlier confided in Nation Online that Atupele was arrested to answer a few questions and would be released later.
â€œHe is at the moment being held at Lilongwe Police station in Area 3,â€ said a police source before Atupele was moved to Lumbadzi Police.
Atupele, 33, has been growing in popularity with increased appeal to the youths, who make up over 60 percent of Malawiâ€™s population.
â€˜Arrest meant to intimidate UDF leadershipâ€™
Meanwhile, Malawiâ€™s opposition UDF says Atupeleâ€™s arrest is meant to intimidate the party to back down from its intended crusade of recruiting members.
UDF treasurer general George Nga Mtafu, who disclosed that he is among the targeted individuals, however, said he is not afraid of the impending arrest.
“I am not afraid of this thing. If you arrest me, I want you to explain [the arrest]. I am waiting. I have plenty of patience,” said Mtafu moments before Atupele was arrested.
He said the party has information from police sources that its campaign director, trade unionist Austin Kalimanjira, is among the wanted list.
Mtafu alleged the police are working under governmentâ€™s instructions to instil fear in people because â€œUDF is the only party that is giving people hope. This is a party on the move.”
UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala wondered why the trio are being targeted when the whistle-stop tours in Lilongwe were organised by the party.
“I am the one who organised this meeting and not Atupele,” said Makwangwala while producing two letters to the Lilongwe District Council and Lilongwe City Council at a press briefing at the partyâ€™s offices in Limbe.
According to the letters, the party rescheduled its meeting from Saturday to Sunday to give room to President Bingu wa Mutharika who was at Civo Stadium on Saturday.
â€˜Itâ€™s a scapegoatâ€™
“Government is using security reasons as a scapegoat in order to make sure that opposition political parties should not address political rallies in the country.
“In as far as we are concerned, [Malawi] government cannot suspend public gatherings like political rallies unless they declare a State of Emergency,” said Makwangwala.
He disputed that the chaos and violence that erupted at Area 24 in Lilongwe was caused by the party.
“Section 40 of the Malawi Constitution is very clear on our rights to campaign for a political party cause and to participate in peaceful political activities,” he said.
Makwangwala described the policeâ€™s use of tear gas at the rally as unprofessional, barbaric and not befitting a police service in a democratic country like Malawi.
“Innocent citizens, including women and children, were victimised through the use of lethal tear gas by happy trigger police.
“We believe this incident could have been easily avoided if the police decided to behave professionally. We hold the police responsible for all the violence and the damage to property thereof,” said Makwangwala in reference to the damage to the police unit in Area 24 where unidentified people also set free suspects in its cells.